Houston and Yorkton, Sask. will both receive the title of Western Canada’s best snowmobiling town in SnoRiders magazine’s Sledtown Showdown.
Although Houston received 66 per cent of 42,917 votes, a technical problem led to the magazine’s decision to award the crown to both towns.
“We ran into an excepted situation and decided to award both finalist a trophy,” said publisher Keith Powell in a statement. “I wanted to personally thank everyone in Houston and give you a heads up that we detected a system failure in our third-party voting system mid-way through Round 6.”
“We have decided to be fair to all and we will award a trophy to the both Houston and Yorkton.”
Powell continues that some voters “were locked out and unable to vote”, whereas “others started to report an unusually high number of votes being registered.”
“We will work closely with our third party voting provider for next year’s SledTown ShowDown, so we can avoid any possible voting irregularities or glitches in the future,” said Powell.
Houston Snowmobile Club will receive a trophy and a $500 certificate for advertising in the magazine. Houston will also receive “front page exposure” in the magazine and online.
“I feel it’s really good for Houston, that it’s put us on the map and opened up our riding areas, it’s good publicity,” said Houston Snowmobile Club president Shea Long.
Long did not expect Houston to go this far into the competition when he first entered Houston into the competition.
“I didn’t expect us to be winning it a bunch of months later,” said Long. “Yeah, there’s a lot of big challengers like Valemount and Sicamous and all over down there.”
“The fact that we won is pretty impressive, kind of shows how good a community we have.”
Regarding the voting problems, Long empathizes with SnoRiders.
“I see where SnoRiders is coming from,” said Long. “What’s fair is fair. I know there’s [43,000] votes at the end, and when you have a town of 3,000 people you’re never going to have [43,000] votes. I don’t care if the whole B.C. gets together.”
Coun. Jonathan Van Barneveld felt that sharing the award with Yorkton feels “bittersweet.”
“I hope we can glean some opportunities from having that distinction and getting more of a profile for Houston,” he said.
Chamber of Commerce manager Maureen Czirfusz also sees this award presenting an opportunity.
“It has highlighted the snowmobiling area and we are going to continue to highlight it because now eyes are upon us at what amazing sledding we have so we’re just going to go with the opportunity and go forward,” she said.
To drive the vote for Houston, Czirfusz has worked hard to get the word out.
“We put it out in our newsletter and we put it out on our Facebook page, and we also emailed the other Chambers within the province of British Columbia and asked if they would share it with their members and have the rest of the province vote for us as well,” said Czirfusz.
Czirfusz spoke with a conciliatory tone when asked about sharing the award with Yorkton.
“Because of a computer glitch, it was the best thing they could have done,” she said.