Plans for a new bike skills park promise to improve recreational options, but could also come with a higher price tag than originally planned.
Coun. Ned Taylor, chair of Saanich’s parks, trails and recreation advisory committee, said the proposed facility responds to a demand that has gone unmet as evident by the illegal jumps that cyclists build in Haro Woods. Saanich has banned active bicycling – including mountain and BMX bicycling – in the municipality’s share of Haro Woods. The popular area in Saanich’s Cadboro Bay neighbourhood has been the site of several conflicts between cyclists and area residents.
The facility – which Taylor has described elsewhere as a crucial component of Saanich’s youth development strategy – will also help residents live healthier, more active lives.
“It says a lot about what we are willing to do to support recreational opportunities,” said Taylor.
He made those comments after Saanich announced it would lease a one-acre piece of land from BC Hydro for the development of a facility that may include elements such as bike skills, a pump park, parkour, skate, ropes course, zip line and bouldering. Saanich will lease the site, at the north end of the George Tripp Substation between Borden Street and Lochside Drive for $1, to be renewed every five years.
Taylor called the location “ideal” and said the value of the lease would allow Saanich to focus its resources on the facility itself.
Design details remain undetermined, but Taylor said plans call for construction to start in 2020, adding that he expects public engagement to start later in the summer, once staff have filled out details.
“With any new additions to our parks, we want to make sure that we hear from the public,” he said.
Saanich’s 2019 budget includes $166,700 for the park and Taylor said it is possible that next year’s budget will need to allocate additional funding to the project.
Yvonne Mendel, vice-president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and board member of the South Island Mountain Bike Society, had previously welcomed Saanich’s decision to include funding for such a facility in its 2019 budget, but also warned that it might not be enough.
“I’m a little bit concerned that it might not be enough,” she said. While this budget represents a “good start,” Namaimo’s “amazing” park “cost a lot more” than the current budget, she said.
Nanamio city council in 2016 approved $200,000 towards the Steve Smith Bike Park named in honour of the Nanaimo area resident who died in a motorcycling accident in 2016 after winning the 2013 downhill mountain bike racing world championship.