IRONMAN Australia officials and Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's CEO will hunker down to determine if the internationally recognised triathlon event proceeds on Father's Day or is rescheduled for a third time.
A decision is expected before 5pm (May 3).
The mayor unsuccessfully attempted to have the current race date of September 5 taken off the table after receiving submissions from Rob Dwyer, general manager of Laurieton United Services Club, and Peter Negus of Club North Haven.
Cr Pinson put a recommendation to an extra ordinary meeting of council today (May 3) on the basis the race, which attracts thousands of athletes and their supporters to the region each year, will clash with a number of other major events on the weekend of September 4-5, most notably Father's Day.
The Port Macquarie Ironman Australia and 70.3 was cancelled last year due to COVID health restrictions and was then rescheduled to September 5 from May 2 following devastating floods across the region.
Ironman Australia regional director Chris Jervis said after the floods, the tipping point to move the event to September 4-5 was based on what was in the best interests of the community.
Mr Jervis and Ironman Oceania managing director Dave Beeche worked with council, Destination NSW and the Local Organising Committee at the beginning of April where they agreed to push the race back to September.
Mr Dwyer, in his submission to the council, said the Ironman event "paralyses" the community.
"Residents from Tacking Point to Dunbogan are landlocked for the day. It has a significant impact on our residents and businesses that suffer on that day while a private business makes a significant surplus," Mr Dwyer said.
"Accommodation providers and hospitality businesses in Port Macquarie may benefit from this event but it does not flow on to the Camden Haven despite our best efforts to support the event over the years.
"For the financial benefit of greater Port Macquarie, for many years we've suffered the financial losses and cancellation of social events.
"2021 is not about the financial loss. To make the conscious decision to run an event like this on Father's Day is socially unfathomable."
The mayor argued the region had been through "absolute hell" in the floods and to deny businesses and families, particularly those in the Camden Haven region, the opportunity to enjoy Father's Day did not fit with the region's sense of community.
Cr Pinson said while she supports Ironman as an important event for the region, it would be "pigheaded" to take away the opportunity to celebrate dads in favour of a commercial decision. She said a change of date would be a win-win result.
"This is a community that prides itself on community values. For me as mayor, and as elected councillors, it's really important we uphold those values and we demonstrate to our community their wellbeing and their businesses are important to us as well," she said.
Cr Rob Turner was supported by Cr Geoff Hawkins and deputy mayor Lisa Intemann in keeping the event locked in on September 5 if council's CEO and Ironman Australia officials could not agree on an alternative.
Cr Turner said Ironman Australia has had the best interests of the community over many years and has always worked collaboratively with council in delivering the event.
Cr Hawkins submitted a statement from the Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce in support of the Ironman event as a celebration the region is "back in business".
"We need the Ironman to go ahead as soon as possible. The rebuilding and recovery will take time but the Ironman will demonstrate our collective resilience and that we're back in business," Chamber president Michael Mowle said.
Council CEO Dr Clare Allen said the matter must consider all parties and be resolved quickly.
"I realise this is causing such great angst in terms of the community and Ironman organisers," she said.
"I am empathetic. There doesn't appear to be winners in this.
"Council has worked strongly with Ironman over the years and it is a great event. I understand the angst in the community and agree we do need to make a decision soon.
"We cannot let it go any longer than tomorrow in terms of me having that level of conversation moving forward.
"People have organised travel, accommodation, the event has been cancelled a number of times or postponed. I do not want to leave people hanging."
Cr Intemann said "sentimental benefit" cannot be the only consideration in reviewing the Ironman race date and reminded councillors they are elected to represent the whole community.
"All of us in this room are aware of the effect of the flood and the damage and the trauma," Cr Intemann said.
"All of us are elected to represent the whole of the Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA and all of those residents always.
"This is not being done for a commercial benefit. We are reconsidering a date for a sentimental benefit and I understand that affects people.
"However, the other side of the argument is that we must consider the reputational damage, the potential to council and Ironman if we change this date again without due consideration, and also that it involves volunteers, competitors and the certainty to them."
Cr Turner believes the community understands the benefit the Ironman event brings to the region. He noted that Byron Bay holds its major triathlon festival every year on Mother's Day quite successfully.
"The shine of Ironman will still be there. Our community expects and understands that we all have to make sacrifices here and Ironman is something that has been such a benefit to our community for such a long time," he said.
"If we can appeal to the good nature and sense of community amongst all our communities we will make this work."
Ironman Australia will negotiate the date with council today (May 3).
"News of this desire to look at alternative dates is disappointing, but we're committed to working with council to build confidence around the current date," an Ironman spokesperson said.
"Unfortunately if another suitable date cannot be found, and September 5 isn't approved, there is a real risk that the event may have to be cancelled, jeopardising the $10 million a year that Ironman Australia injects into the region.
"We know that Father's Day is an important day for so many and are committed to working with all parties to make the weekend of September 4-5 successful for the community."
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