The Bike Skills Park proposed by the Sooke Bike Club (SBC) has become a hotly debated issue. The neighbours surrounding the park feel strongly about protecting the green space adjoining their properties from any development. The SBC sees the park as the potential central hub of a community committed to the benefits of physical activity, especially biking.
To move forward, the two factions need to look for some common ground, rather than wasting time arguing. With effective communication and negotiation, John Philips Memorial Park is large enough to be both peaceful green space, and a gathering place for Sooke’s growing active community.
It seems the neighbours of JPMP see the proposed plan as a license to demolish the big, beautiful old trees in the park, and fill the space with gravel, dirt, and noisy, swearing kids. In fact, the current proposed plan works with the present shape of the park, using existing trees as framework for trails, and adding, rather than removing shrubbery as buffer for neighbours.
Of course the park won’t be as quiet as it is now. You’ll hear the sounds of children laughing, or yells of jubilation as someone nails a trick. As for nighttime activity, the park promises to be empty once it gets dark, if there are no lights installed.
Another concern voiced is the cost of maintenance. Downhill mountain bikers are a community who meet regularly for work parties to maintain the trails they ride. The adults and kids of SBC have a wealth of energy and expertise that could be put to effective use in caring for a bike park, keeping your tax dollars safe for other purposes.
Also, from the beginning, SBC never asked for money to create the park. They asked for a License of Occupation Agreement so they could apply for funding to build the park. The original idea was one of fundraising and applying for grants to build a Bike Skills Park.
As for the series of jumps at SEAPARC, they were built to give riders a temporary place to practice. Though designed by a professional, they were improperly built. The new coat of gravel, a poor surface for a bike jump, is functional in showing in bike tracks how few riders make it to the end of the jump lines.
We are lucky in Sooke to have world class downhill mountain biking trails at Harbourview. But these are trails for intermediate to advanced riders. The mayor’s solution of a slalom course for kids eight and under in JPMP will be perfect for the little kids. But where do they ride once they outgrow that track?
With compromises on both sides, there must be a solution that can work for everyone. Let’s stop spreading misinformation, be honest about our wants and needs. Let’s do what we can to honour each other, to build a Sooke that includes both peaceful greenspace, and room for biking to grow and inspire a more active, vibrant community.