At the District of Sooke council meeting on Monday, Mar. 11, council discussed the proposed Bile Skills Park. Two recommendations came before council, one being to conduct a public consultation process and the other to direct staff to continue to work with the bike club to obtain grant funding.
Council had previously allocated $3,600 for funds to engage Alpine Bike Parks to draw up plans for the park. The site for the bike park would be in John Phillips Memorial Park, encompassing1.8 hectares. The idea was to have the Sooke Bike Club design, build and maintain the park. The club would also be responsible for costs associated with improvements, such a fencing, signage, bike/equipment storage and washroom facilities.
During the public question portion of the meeting, most of the residents who came up to the microphone were in favour of a bike skills park. Most stated the importance of youth-oriented activity in the centre of Sooke.
Sooke resident Ellen Lewers suggested council err on the side of caution and to ensure their priorities were in order.
Gail Hall said a couple of things troubled her. She said council was going from approving something in principle to wording that states they are entering into a partnering agreement with the bike club.
“You’re going to run into a brick wall on that one,” she said. “I’m not interested in my taxes going into a special interest group. If you do an agreement, you will do a referendum.”
Two residents stated they were in favour of a bike park, but not in that particular location, as it was the last green space in the centre of Sooke.
“There will be a full-blown public hearing,” said Mayor Wendal Milne.
The second part of the recommendation was to direct staff to work with the Bike Club to obtain grant funding. This did not sit well with all of council.
Councillor Rick Kasper said a public process should be held first as he did not want council to appear to pre-judge the public process.
Mayor Milne reiterated that the process had to remain neutral. He said he supported the bike skills park if it was in the right place and the public agrees. He said he was not voting against youth or the park.
On voting Mayor Wendal Milne was opposed.
The ultimate capital costs for construction of the park is expected to be a maximum of $300,000. The annual maintenance would cost five percent of the construction costs or approximately $15,000 annually. Construction of the park will be phased in over time and take three to five years to complete.