Côte St. Luc council passed a tough resolution, calling on the island-wide agglomeration “not to support Vélo Québec with funding and free in kind support, until... all event participants on the Island of Montreal are invited to raise funds for charities via their participation in the events.”
The resolution was proposed by Councillor Mike Cohen, and inspired by charity activist Murray Levine’s longtime advocacy for the annual Tour de l’Île cycling event to also be a charity event.
“The annual Tour de l’Île de Montréal has been a thorn in my side for decades,” Cohen wrote on his website, mikecohen.ca. “I am not a cyclist and I resent the fact that this event paralyzes the city one Sunday each year, as well as eating up the equivalent of $500,000 in Agglomeration funds while not raising a penny for charity.”
Cohen pointed out that Levine first raised the issue with him 30 years ago.
“Organizers from Vélo Québec continue to march to the beat of their own drum and with each City of Montreal administration not taking a stand on the issue, they face little incentive to change,” Cohen added. “Now we have a Montreal Mayor in Valerie Plante who cycles to work. If the Tour would encourage its riders to raise funds for their favorite charity, I might find this inconvenience a bit more bearable.”
Levine has said that Quebec “is the worst place for charitable giving in all of Canada and the USA,” and he is urging other councils to pass similar resolutions.
Côte St. Luc’s resolution points out that the more than 30,000 participants of New York’s TD 5 Boro Cycle “are invited to raise funds for charities, and this year —and previous ones— raised $1 million.
“The participants of multitudes of mass participation running, cycling, triathlon and other mass participation self propelled athletic events around the world have optional charitable fundraising components,” the resolution adds. “The participants of running events alone in the US raise over $1 billion per year for charities. The participants of the Marathon de Montreal are invited to raise funds and may still be paying Montreal so that they may stage their event. Charities staging athletic events that raise funds at Parc Jean Drapeau actually pay for the privilege.”
The resolution points out that the Le Tour de L’Ile de Montreal “receives $500,000 in funding and in kind support from the Agglomeration,” but is a major inconvenience to pedestrians and motorists.
“Emergency vehicles are delayed due to the event [and] there is no noticeable increase in tourism due to the event.”
As well, the resolution says, “Dorval, Kirkland and Hampstead will not consider allowing Le Tour in unless the participants are invited to raise funds for charities, and Côte St Luc, Dollard des Ormeaux and Laval have banned the event altogether.”
Vélo-Quebec has been asked about this issue over the years, Its position, as told to The Gazette in a 2015 interview, is that “the Tour has its own mission, which is to promote free and safe cycling. Individual riders are free to get sponsors and raise money for a charity of their choice. We do offer preferential rates for organizations who want to sign up a group to raise money for their cause. Our cause is cycling.”
Councillor Dida Berku voted against, saying she did not like the way the resolution was formulated. “The event causes a little inconvenience, but many people enjoy it.”