Judd de Vall fielded questions for the community as to the concept plans for the Sooke Bike Skills Park at a meeting held on June 26. Below

Residents speak out on bike park

An informational open house was held on June 26 to give Sooke residents the opportunity to speak out about the bike park.

Pirjo Raits

Sooke News Mirror

The Sooke Community Hall appeared to be fairly equally split between those for and those against a proposed Bike Skills Park on a slope at John Phillips Memorial Park. An informational open house was held on June 26 to give residents the opportunity to speak out about what they thought of the proposal. About 75 people attended the meeting.

Judd de Vall, representing Alpine Bike Parks, was on hand to explain the plans and answer questions where he could. He showed videos of other bike parks so the assembled would have some visual idea of what the proposed park would look like and how it would be used.

The park will have medium to large flow trails, cross-country and multi-use trails ranging from easy to difficult as well as a variety of terrains with drops, table tops, berms, hips and other features,

The district paid $3,600 for the concept plans.

When asked what would be in there, de Vall answered by saying they had not yet placed features on the trail.

“This is the beginning of a dialogue. We want to know what you think is appropriate or what is not appropriate,” said de Vall.

He was unable to give an idea of how much the park would cost. Alpine was just doing the concept designs at the start of the process and an economic and feasibility study was part of this. He said there is gas tax money which might be available for park funding.

“The problem is, this sounds like it’s a done deal and I resent it,” said one resident. “A bike skills park is a phenomenal idea but not in that park.”

Reference was made to a 2006 Parks and Trails Master Plan, but what is being proposed now was not in the 2006 plan. The 2006 plan called for walking trails which would be handicapped accessible and primarily for pedestrians.

Issues of protection of riparian areas and trees were voiced.

On the pro side, it was stated that biking was a “phenomenal activity for youth and the pump tracks were the most important part.” The location was central which would be easy to reach even at a young age.

Most people were not against a bike park for kids; they had issues with the location.

One person said they would appreciate if the proponents “would stop playing the kid card” and there were other concerns such as taxes, infrastructure, sidewalks, etc. all through Sooke. Parking concerns, use at all hours, noise levels and the importance of supervision were all brought up by various Sooke citizens.

Promotion of fitness and the historical opposition to the boardwalk, Galloping Goose trail, skateboard park, etc. was mentioned. Creating safe spaces for kids was important as not all kids could afford organized sports.

“The key is it has to be a community project,” said de Vall.

Others reiterated that the bike park was in the wrong place and areas such as Harbourview and the Galloping Goose should be utilized and use encouraged as well at the old bike park by SEAPARC. A suggestion of a multi-use trail encircling the entire JPMP was brought up.

Lorna Barry said John Phillips Memorial Park was the last piece of property in the centre of town and it was “our Beacon Hill Park.” She questioned who would be liable if someone was injured and who was going to pay to maintain the park.

District planner Gerard LeBlanc said no decision has been made, and only general discussions on the park and the location have been carried out.

He said generally there would be some funding from taxpayer dollars, but the majority of funds would come from grants obtained by the bike club. He said the park was at the first stage, the first concept and they don’t even know if it’s been costed out.

One gentleman said that without supervision at the bike skills park, the insurance and maintenance would “go through the roof.”

Exercise, activities for youth and adults, fitness, increased tourism and getting outdoors were all brought up as reasons to build the bike park.

John Phillips Memorial Park is seven hectares in size and the bike park would take up 1.7 hectares.

Feedback can be sent to the District of Sooke at: http://www.sooke.ca/EN/main/government/devservices/parks/projects.html#BikeSkills