I take offense to a naysayer’s vitriolic letter ‘Council fumbles Bike Skills Park.’
Labeling a group of committed individuals from widespread backgrounds and ages attending a council meeting as a ‘flash mob’ because they don’t share your viewpoint is a tactic of using ridicule to undermine a group.
Shouldn’t we be applauding people for taking an interest in their community? Be proud that we have youth that are willing to get involved in politics for something they want? Isn’t it exciting that support for this project comes from all differing aspects of our community, from businesses to the school district to service groups to individuals? We as a community have been putting in volunteer hours and dollars to make this a reality. This is a people powered project at its best.
The naysayer continues a line of argument that pitches misinformation to garner support. For the record the Bike Skills Park did not receive a grant of money from public funds. The representatives for the bike skills park have never requested money from the district. Council moved to pay for an initial plan for the bike skills park because of the demands of the naysayers, who at that time were just against the building of a bike park in general. Council made a motion to have an open house in June, and that is where our plans for environmental restoration as well as the layout of the trails will be displayed. A motion to direct staff to work with the club to identify possible funding sources, outside of tax dollars ie; grants etc was made.
The current Bike Skills Park proposal was presented to council in early 2012, over a year ago. Since then there has been slow steady progress with council listening to all sides of the proposal. If they had been just listening to the proponents the bike skills park would be in its finishing phases now and ready for use this summer.
The process leading to the development of John Phillips Memorial Park, and to the bike skills area in particular, started in 2005. This was a park’s plan completed with community input and published in 2006. If council suddenly and unilaterally removes the bikes skills area from the park plan, after all the investment of time and tax dollars taken to plan the John Philips Memorial Park that will be worse than a fumble – it would be a breach of faith and trust. That John Phillips park plan is the outcome of a significant amount of community input, time and tax-dollars, and I don’t think this council would or could change the established plan without significant public consultation.
There is no ‘majority of taxpayers’ who are against the placement of the bike skills park in John Phillips. Presenting opinion as fact is a tactic of garnering support by rabble rousing, unfortunately council bashing is the rallying cry.
In the words of Martha Moore, instead of being derisive of different opinions in our community, let’s work together to create community pride. In that spirit I would welcome the opportunity to sit down with naysayers and listen to what their fears are around this park. I think there is a fair amount of misinformation feeding fear. Voices can be heard in a manner that fosters community spirit and growth; hyperbole to rally emotions is counter-productive. Please come to the open house. There is the possibility that all of this energy being generated in controversy could be harnessed instead for the creation of something that benefits us all.
What is being proposed is a bike skills park that enhances John Phillips Memorial Park in accordance with the park plan. It will support local business by attracting tourists to Sooke, provides a recreation opportunity for all residents of Sooke from the very young to the very old and builds community because this is a community project. There will not be a loss of green space, the trees will be protected and in fact ways of beautifying the park through flood management and the introduction of natural species in the watershed area are in the plan, the actual bike skills area of the park is not currently in use. The additional walking trails in the plan will actually see more people utilizing this park, not just the handful of people and dogs that currently enjoy this well manicured park.