Letters: Why not SEAPARC?

Sooke Bike Club members outlines reasons why SEAPARC wouldn't work for a bike skills park

Practically everyone agrees a bike park is needed for Sooke’s youth and families. The conflict is where that park should be located. The mayor suggested building a young children’s bike line on the NE slope at John Phillips Memorial Park, and revitalizing the SEAPARC site. Here’s why a community bike park in JPMP is still the best option for Sooke.

In 2006 beginner bike jumps were built behind Seaparc. The jumps were used in the summer by younger youth for a couple of years before they eroded due to lack of drainage and neglect by SEAPARC which spent the maintenance budget on other priorities.

Soggy mess — The Seaparc bike jumps are under water and unusable for over half the year. Sooke children and youth need fun outdoor recreation all year round to get away from video games and TV. The slope behind the district office at JPMP already has natural drainage and Sooke has trained staff to manage it.

Risky location— The SEAPARC location is tucked away in the bushes, with poor access and visibility. How many parents feel comfortable sending their young kids to this location? How many girls would feel safe going there? We should not be shunting our children and youth into a secluded space where their safety is potentially at risk. A bike park in JPMP is out in the open and safe for all our children and youth. It’s also right on the bike lanes, close to schools and the village core where most kids live.

Youth passed over — SEAPARC staff informed us that their bike jumps are suitable for pre-teens, and there are no plans for this to change. Youth have been completely passed over by the Mayor’s “compromise”.

Uncertainty — Even if the drainage could be fixed at SEAPARC (doubtful), the use of the slope belonging to the Community Association would be needed to make the bike area appropriate for youth. There is no guarantee this could be secured for use now or in the future.

All-age facility needed — Key to good bike park design is the progression of skills. A multi-level bike park at JPMP would allow young children to start their biking experience and improve as they become pre-teens and teens. It will be a playground where parents can connect with their children of all ages. Any bike park in Sooke should be designed as a community asset for all ability levels, not just young children.

Positive youth culture — In a multi-level bike park, youth will have the opportunity to mentor young kids.  This will not be the case with the Mayor’s proposal. Youth need a sense of ownership and pride with any facility aimed at them. With this sense of pride in their facility, youth will have the opportunity to maintain the features and lead bike clinics for younger children. The opportunity to develop a healthy youth culture will be lost with two facilities for young children.

Will sooke council fulfill their promise to youth? — Two years ago every member of council voted in favour of a mult-level bike park in John Philips Memorial Park. They KNEW it was a great idea and the right thing to do for Sooke children, youth and families. But they got an earful from a vocal minority of citizens and pulled the plug. Every one of our councillors campaigned on promises to do more for the youth of Sooke. Let’s hold them to those promises.

Come to the Pubic Hearing on the Sooke Community Bike Park — September 23 at the Community Hall.

Christina Schlattner

Sooke Bike Club