At the end of Sooke’s great debate, whether or not a bike park would be developed at John Phillips Memorial Park (JPMP), Mayor Wendal Milne aptly said, “Half of you are going to go home mad, and half of you are going to go home happy.”
Those who did not want to see a bike park developed at JPMP were among those who went home happy. On September 23, beginning at 7 p.m., the Committee of the Whole, met to receive public input, and then definitely establish a direction for the Sooke bike park. Due to the volume of people expected to attend, the meeting was held at the Sooke Community Hall. The community did not disappoint, as the meeting was well attended. The purpose of the meeting was to get imput from the community, and to consider four possible options.
• Option one was to approve in principle a full-scale, all ages, all level bike park at JPMP, as presented by Alpine Bike Parks on June 26, and to work to secure appropriate funding.
• Option two was to approve in pinciple a beginner bike skills park at JPMP, and to refurbish the existing facilities at SEAPARC.
• Option three, the option ultimately moved and passed, read as follows: “That the Committee of the Whole recommend Council give direction to staff to work with the Sooke Bike Club, SEAPARC, and the Sooke Community Assocation to secure agreements and funding to refurbish the existing bike skills area dn expand the existing faciltiy into Throup Road Park to accommodate all bike skill levels; “And to bring back a report to Council on the bike skills park funding for approval prior to entering into an agreement or the commencement of the works.”
• Option four was to do nothing.
Input from the public was diverse and covered a wide spectrum. In total, 41 people got up to speak. Forty were from Sooke, and one person, a non-resident visitor from Victoria was invited to speak at the end of the meeting. Sixteen people spoke in support of a bike park in some form at JPMP. Curb appeal, economic impact, youth engagement and safety, healthy living, and accessiblity topped the list of arguments presented for having an all ages, all level skill park. Several youth presented in favour.
Eighteen people spoke out against having a bike skills park at JPMP. Some of those against the JPMP location did support revisiting SEAPARC, while others advised against pursing an agenda very specific to one interest group. Uncertainty of economic gain, increased costs to taxpayer, lack of a business plan, failure to engage in discussion (by both parties) with SEAPARC manager Larry Hutchings, property values around JPMP residences, and different visions for JPMP were among the top issues raised by those opposing.
The last speaker from Sooke was a teenager, making the sobering claim that not all youth were in favour of the park. She found there were many activities already available to youth in Sooke. After two hours of public input (and a two minute break that saw the departure of more than half of the attendees), the topic was further debated by the committee. Councillor Rick Kasper first made the motion that Optiontwo be considered. The motion failed. Tait motioned that Option one be considered. That motion also failed. Kasper then made the motion that Option three be considered. Voting in favour were Rick Kasper, Councillors Kerry Reay, Kevin Pearson and Mayor Wendal Milne. Not in favour were Councillors Maya Tait, Herb Haldane and Bev Berger.