Our ‘Beacon Hill’ is at risk, and all of us need to participate in an effort to save it. As you may know, there is a proposal afoot to turn our John Phillips Memorial Park into a bike skills park. This project had already received approval for a ‘license-to-occupy’ from our council, which has just been rescinded by our mayor who thankfully recognized in time that the project proposal had been handled in a ‘half assed’ manner, without a public consultation, without distinct plans submitted for approval, without appropriate impact studies.
It is important that everyone understand that this park is not simply extra wide paths through John Phillips park to increase accessibility, it will be a stripped bare landscape, with all ‘unsafe’ trees removed, tons of gravel and dirt moved in, construction of ramps, jumps, boardwalks etc, constructed over as many as five years.
While this project will have immediate impact on the parkland’s nearest neighbours, the loss of this greenspace will impact the entire community for much longer than a few years worth of construction. Please look at AlpineBikeParks.com, and check out Valmont Bike Park, which is cited by Mr. Arnold of the Sooke Bike Club as the standard to which this project will aspire. Alpine Bike Parks is the partner/builder of this proposed project. As we already have two bike skills parks in the Sooke area, (behind Stan Jones ball field and up at the top of Harbour View Rd.) do we need another one?
Question also the fact that the ‘license to occupy’ is transferrable, and should the park not succeed after it is begun, who will be the next occupier to take over the now stripped land?
Or how about Mr. Arnold’s claim that the park will cost Sooke taxpayers nothing, yet in truth the district will supposedly still retain ownership and control (read ‘responsibility and liability’).
Or better yet, it will cost nothing, yet Councillor Haldane was overheard to suggest that the district should “give them $50,000 just to get started’! I would suggest that perhaps Mr. Haldane has his own 50 grand to pony up… or that if Sooke can approve $50,000 to invest in this land, they should consider investing it in things we have been clamouring for for ages – like sidewalks, streetlight, and development of the largest accessible greenspace we have access to within the boundaries of our town, John Phillips Memorial Park.