Outcome of Port paddle race proves controversial

  • Jul. 3, 2013 8:00 p.m.

Figuring out the winner of Port Clements’ Canada Days paddle race is turning out to be more difficult than one might imagine. The paddle race, which took place June 30, was just one of many events in the village’s annual weekend celebration. It attracted three teams, all from Port: Oliver Bell and Alyson Bell-Mckay in a rowboat, Wally Cheer and his daughter in a kayak, and Kazamir Falconbridge and Harmonie Blais in a canoe. Mr. Cheer is the mayor of Port and Mr. Falconbridge is a councillor. The outcome of the race was discussed at Tuesday night’s council meeting (July 2), but council members agreed they will have to wait for the return of councillor Urs Thomas before they can make any decisions. Both Mr. Cheer and Mr. Falconbridge have a conflict of interest, being participants in the race. Administrator Kim Mushynsky said Mr. Bell’s rowboat crossed the finish line first, with a time of 44 minutes, followed by Mr. Cheer’s kayak in 45 minutes and Mr. Falconbridge’s canoe in 49 minutes. Up for grabs is $250 in prize money for the winners of the paddle race. When council set the money aside during the Canada Days planning process, they decided that the prizes would be awarded at council’s discretion, as they weren’t sure how many participants the race would attract. Last year, the first year of the race, Mr. Falconbridge and Ms Blais were the only entrants. Council decided to award them $150 out of the $250 they had budgeted. This year, Mr. Falconbridge told council, he believes his team placed first once again, as they were the only canoe entered. He said that Mr. Bell placed first in the rowboat category, Mr. Cheer placed first in the kayak category, and he himself had come in first in the canoe category. Thus, an argument could be made to divide the prize money into three equal portions, although Mr. Falconbridge suggested the canoe team should get $150, saying a poster for the event clearly stated there would be a separate category for canoes. Administrator Kim Mushynsky said it wasn’t clear whether there were different categories in the race or not, and that the three council members who weren’t involved in the race are going to have to decide how the prize pot will be shared out. The uninvolved council members did not sound like they were looking forward to making what will doubtless be a difficult decision. “The pressure is getting to be too much,” joked councillor Matt Gaspar. Meanwhile, Mr. Falconbridge also offered his thoughts on the paddle race in general, saying that he would like to see it become a much more high-profile event in future years that attracts large numbers of competitors. “It will never be as cool as the mud bog,” he said, but the more diverse events that Canada Days has, the more interest and energy the village will generate. It would be a good idea to hold the paddle race at a different time than the mud bog, he said, so it can attract more spectators. It would also be a good idea to choose a higher tide, as this year’s participants found themselves paddling through mud during the early stages of the race, he said.