Bike park update for city council

Castlegar group hoping for major progress on mountain bike skills park by summertime.

Pictured outside council chambers on Feb. 17... bike park delegation included

Pictured outside council chambers on Feb. 17... bike park delegation included

The regular city council meeting of February 17 was kicked off by a well-organized and dedicated delegation intent of advancing the creation of a mountain bike skills park in Castlegar.

The property for the amenity, about three acres at Twin Rivers Park, has already been allocated by the city.

Mark Jennings and others from the Castlegar Friends of Parks and Trails provided an update on the group’s efforts toward the creation of the bike park, including information on a high profile designer, the internationally known Jay Hoots, whose services have been retained.

In a powerpoint delivery lasting about 35 minutes, City Council was brought up to speed on the status of the project. Jennings showed photos of other Hoots-designed parks, one in Hinton Alberta situated on property that sprawls over close to 30 acres. He said Hoots (an accomplished competitive mountain biker as well as designer) was chosen from among several other qualified bidders for a combination of reasons: 1. his reputation. 2, his lower bid, and 3, because he is also known for flexibility, allowing locals to have significant input into park design.

Jennings told council about an energetic fundraising push being made by his group and described the urgency of the push. He said the group needs help in covering costs of the design phase of the project, and that a number of other potential sources of funding help were to be approached following the Feb. 17 request of $2,500 from the City of Castlegar.

Vocal support and encouragement was expressed by councillors Deb McIntosh and Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff.

McIntosh said after the meeting’s conclusion that some investigating was needed for the most sensible way to help.

“I think part of the issue is going to be where that money comes from,” said the councillor. “So, $2,500 out of the grant-in-aid budget is going to really make a dent. We’ve got to figure out, if we’re going to support the $2,500… where can we pull from that’s not going to have a huge impact.”

On the chances of the group’s wishes being accommodated (a written request was also asked for by Heaton-Sherstobitoff), Coun. McIntosh said, “There’s support for it, definitely. I guess we’ll find out when push comes to shove and the vote comes to the table.”

Following his presentation Jennings met with media and, first, outlined the status of the park proposal starting with some background. He related how the bike skills park idea had been supported during public input sessions on how best to improve the City’s Millennium Park.

“Just last spring I went to the Castlegar Friends of Parks and Trails and asked if they would be willing to take on this project,” Jennings explained.

“I stepped up to the executive and we started the process of talking to the City and getting the approvals in place. The land has already been set aside in the Official Community Plan as the bike skills park.”

The hope among the Castlegar Friends of Parks and Trails is that the south end of the park can be done this year… and that work may start as soon as possible.

“It is critical that another summer doesn’t go by without us riding in this park,” he stressed. “We’ve been waiting for the last four years to get to this point. Now we’re here and we want to make sure we get to enjoy it while we can…this summer. We’re hoping to get shovels in the ground… in July or August.”

Jennings expressed gratitude to the City for its support to date, and agreed that continued support, such as the requested $2,500 would bolster his group’s efforts to gain additional funding help from other corporate and institutional sources.