Open letter to mayor and council:
I have been thinking a lot about the Bike Skills Park proposal and I believe we need to go back to the drawing board and prioritize our goals.
We have soccer fields which are in such a sad state in the winter that visiting teams threaten to leave and not play in the ‘lake.’ We have hundreds of children and adults using the soccer fields. There are children from five years of age and up. These teams are an enormous economic benefit to our community, as well as soccer is an excellent and relatively safe sport for mobility and coordination
We also have a shortage of baseball fields in the summer for the many local teams of children five and up to adults and visiting teams who also bring economic benefit as well as the team building and skills for children.
We have a local water park and a skateboard park. The skateboard park is also used by local cyclists living on the edge. This park needs better lighting and some work as well.
I know a local woman, worked with young people and local merchants to paint and clean up the skateboard park but who is to maintain it? This was also built by local volunteers and organizations. Police frequent the park as it is often used for undesirable uses. Perhaps at some time a bike skills park could be added to the skateboard park with adequate lighting and some supervision.
Many mountain bikers and skill and thrill seeking cyclists are using Harborview Park for their enjoyment. Harborview is listed on the South Island Mountain Biking website with a full map of trails and jumps etc. It is wonderful and a great place for those cycling enthusiasts.
We have a park in the center of Sooke which accommodates all users, ages and groups. Walk your dog, ride your bike through, push the stroller through to go visit a friend for coffee in the village, have a wedding, family reunion, fish in Knott’s pond, dangle your feet in the water in the summer, kick around a soccer ball, play catch, jog or slide down the hills in the rare winter snow. These passive uses allow children and adults alike to be creative and spontaneous in our over organized world of work and play.
If this bike skills park were to go ahead, the $200,000 required to build the park, would come from fundraising which would negate the fundraising needed to maintain what we already have, the soccer fields and ball parks, which also serve a greater number of the public. It is fine to say that the bike skills park will be maintained by volunteers, but we all know there are fewer and fewer volunteers available as work takes them away from Sooke and will that enthusiastic group be the same next year and the following years?
I remember when we were on the incorporation committee to incorporate Sooke, the comment made by Ed Macgregor, who had served in the B.C. municipal government, was that even though we have a budget and a goal, we will be constantly asked by groups and committees to fund many projects and ideas, because municipal government is local and accessible but, we need to be cautious on how we use our monies and energies.
Tough decisions need to be made and priorities set.