The speed at which the Bike Skills Park proposal has been processed is astounding. The unanimous support of council without public input process mirrors the previous council I thought was a distant memory. Finally, the mayor stepped into reality and is taking a longer term view.
The Sooke Bike Club are organized enthusiasts who, at face value, make a family-based facility argument. One argument used is that the interests of a small group should not outweigh the interests of many.
Since a bike park does exist at SEAPARC, their effort should of been redirected to presenting information on redeveloping this area for year-round usage as its location to an already existing family recreation facility is ideal and issues with loss of green space and visual impact would be non-issues. While the group has made promises about sound and sight management, at John Phillips Memorial Park, the residents whose homes back onto the park, can look forward to deconstructing green space, replaced by a pump track and slalom lines.
There is a need to improve the park for families as it is under-utlilized. From Otter Point Road there is no indication it is in fact a park. Attention is brought to the site by the commercial property for sale sign and the boat/RV parked on the forefront. Many residents of Sooke may not be aware of the pedestrian friendly improvements made in the past year and waterway enhancements.
The $3,600 granted to the Sooke Bike Club to develop plans, should have been spent on promoting and further enhancing the area for residents and visitors as an existing destination. Basics such as a street sign,park benches and utilization of the space for family based events is my definition of developing a park.
As the visual green space on Otter Point Road will gradually be eliminated when the housing development commences across from John Phillips Memorial Park, and population density grows throughout Sooke, green space becomes more appreciated.
Once trees and grasses are removed, replaced by ramps, jumps and slaloms, it is costly to reconstruct green space and will be a failed experiment and eyesore.
As the president of the Sooke Bike Club stated, “if it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work.” While their optimism is evident and their ideas to target all age groups, use volunteers, fundraise etc., are admirable, the location is what is at issue. I ask the supporters to utilize the existing bike park and not devastate a beautiful park.