Tourism Pemberton taking over Slow Food Cycle Sunday 

Co-founder Helmer sees new organizers as 'good fit' for event

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The organizers of Slow Food Cycle Sunday are turning the reins of the event over to Tourism Pemberton, which will ensure that the event will indeed return in 2014 for a 10th year.

Anna Helmer, a co-founder of Slow Food Cycle Sunday, said she and fellow organizer Niki Vankerk were considering putting the event on hiatus for next year after it became apparent that a more comprehensive traffic management plan would be needed to keep both cyclists and motorists safe while sharing Pemberton Meadows Road.

Nearly 4,000 people participated in this past summer's two-wheeled tour of the local agriculture community, but the event was marred by a single-vehicle accident that resulted in the death of a Whistler resident, and narrowly missed participating cyclists.

Helmer said as word got out that she and Vankerk were thinking of shelving the ride for next summer, Tourism Pemberton president David MacKenzie approached them with an offer to help keep it running.

"We met with him a couple of times and realized he has all this energy and Tourism Pemberton is really keen on running an event like Slow Food Cycle Sunday, so we thought, 'Why don't we just turn it over to them?'" said Helmer.

"He's got resources that we can only dream of, and I think it looks really good — Tourism Pemberton presents Slow Food Cycle Sunday. I think it's a really good fit."

MacKenzie said Tourism Pemberton officials were keen to see the event continue on, and are now excited to be taking it over.

"They've developed a great family activity that we think fits well with our community values," said MacKenzie. "Being that we're in the tourism promotion business, and seeing the numbers of people it's been attracting, we think it's a good fit."

Helmer said Vankerk would likely continue providing her expertise to the new organizers to help make for a smooth transition.

Though Tourism Pemberton is run by a handful of dedicated volunteers, MacKenzie said it's likely that the group will hire an event coordinator; similar to the way the Pemberton Cheer Station was organized during the Ironman Canada triathlon back in August.

MacKenzie added that Tourism Pemberton has no plans to deviate from the format that has made Slow Food Cycle Sunday such a resounding success

"We really want to preserve the event that Anna and her team have developed," he said. "We think it's important to keep true to the values of why it started in the first place."

Tourism Pemberton officials will be looking to meet with representatives of the RCMP, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and local government agencies in the future to start putting together a plan for next year's event, said MacKenzie.

After spending close to nine years working to turn Slow Food Cycle Sunday into one of Pemberton's biggest annual gatherings, as well as one of the country's most respected agri-tourism events, Helmer said she's not too sad to be letting it go — just glad that it will continue on without her.

"I would have been way sadder if there had been a resounding silence from the community," she said. "There have been a lot of offers of support, and now this concrete 'We'll do it' from Tourism Pemberton — that's what we needed."

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