FOR BROADCAST USE News that the Cape Breton Festival of Speed did not have approval to proceed should not have come as a surprise to organizers. Organizers were told in writing in November and February that the race would not be permitted under the Motor Vehicle Act. The event has been associated with numerous deaths elsewhere in the past. Angus MacIsaac Minister of Transportation and Public Works, says government’s first priority is to ensure safe access to public roads and highways. Judy Streatch, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage says she recognizes the hard work of the organizers and the potential tourism and economic benefits the event could bring. But she says safety has to be the primary concern. Ms. Streatch says it is unfortunate that organizers continued to plan and promote the event even though they were told earlier that it did not have the necessary approvals. -30- Organizers of the Cape Breton Festival of Speed were told in writing on Nov. 15, 2005 and Feb. 24, 2006 that their race did not have approval to proceed, primarily for safety reasons. The Cape Breton Festival of Speed, a motor sport racing event based on races on the Isle of Man, UK, was proposed for Sept. 20-24. Staff from the Department of Transportation and Public Works informed organizers that the Motor Vehicle Act does not support the racing of vehicles on public highways and that the department could not give approval to close roads for the event. “There have been numerous deaths associated with this event elsewhere in the past,” said Angus MacIsaac, Minister of Transportation and Public Works. “Our first priority is to ensure safe access to public roads and highways and this race would put the public and racers at risk of serious injury or death.” Staff from the Department of Transportation and Public Works and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, met with organizers again this week to reiterate government’s position. “In spite of being informed of the department’s position on the race, organizers continued to plan and promote the event. The news this week should not have come as a surprise,” Mr. MacIsaac added. The proposed race would have taken place on a 53 kilometre route through Port Morien, Birch Grove, and Albert Bridge. The race would have directly affected over 500 residences, two elementary schools, two churches, six cemeteries, numerous small businesses, and many private lanes. It would have required extended road closures and affected travel times to the regional hospital. “We understand that the organizers have worked hard on this event and that many people are disappointed,” said Judy Streatch, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. “We also recognize the potential tourism and economic benefits, but the province had to make safety our top priority in this case. How do you measure economic benefits against even one life lost?” The event was listed as a signature event in the 2006 Doers and Dreamers Guide and other tourism publications. As a marketing agency, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage does not approve events. The onus is on the organizers to ensure all the necessary permits and approvals are in place. Because of the early publishing deadlines for the Doers and Dreamers Guide and other tourism publications, the department must often list events that are in the planning stages. Some event changes or cancellations are made every year and they are communicated through all tourism promotional channels. Ms. Streatch has asked staff to meet with the Festivals and Events Council to review the process for listing signature events.