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Proposed mountain bike skills park faces another obstacle

The society behind a proposed mountain bike skills park has yet another hurdle to clear
This conceptual drawing shows plans for a mountain bike park skills facility at the Sportsplex. The society behind the proposal is looking for financial help from the city to operate the park.

The society behind a proposed mountain bike skills park has yet another hurdle to clear.

Beth Pechter and Wendy Ravai, the driving forces behind the skills facility, told council at its Monday night meeting that they will need the city’s help to maintain the park.

Ravai explained that Bike Park Society members are all volunteers and most have full-time jobs. She suggested that because the skills park is slated to be designed in such close proximity to the Sportsplex that it would be more feasible for city staff to keep an eye on the facility.

“We need someone to open the park and keep an eye on it,” Ravai said.

The society also asked council for some financial help.

Ravai said the society has estimated it will cost $36,445 for park maintenance each year, between March 1 and October 31 when the park is expected to be open.

The society is proposing to build a mountain bike park at the Sportsplex – between Alder Street and the skateboard park – for beginner and intermediate riders featuring dirt jumps, pump tracks, drops and practice trails, obstacles, teeter-totters and wooden features such as skinnies and bridges.

Ravai said the park has received a lot of support from the community, including several donations to help get the facility up and running.

The society has received funding commitments of $2,400 from BC Hydro, $1,000 from the mountain bike SprocKids program, $300 from Outdoor Addictions, $125 from Pedal Your World and the society raised $6,500 through its own fundraiser.

Ravai said Daybreak Rotary has promised proceeds from this year’s Duck Dip event as has the Young Professionals of Campbell River group from its annual fall gala.

Ravai told council that the society estimates it could chip in $5,000 annually towards maintenance costs but said the society needs the city’s help to make the park viable.

“Once we looked into maintenance, what it would cost, we’re not sure we could do it all on our own,” Ravai said. “Our request to council is to consider (having the city) running and maintaining it as part of the city’s budget.”

Coun. Charlie Cornfield asked Ravai and Pechter whether there was a rush on providing the society with an answer or if it could wait until council does its financial planning sessions for 2017 in December.

Ravai said that would be fine, as the society doesn’t intend to start construction on the park until next spring.

Both Cornfield and Mayor Andy Adams commended Pechter and Ravai for their dedication and perseverance.

As Coun. Ron Kerr described at a November, 2015 council meeting, the society “has jumped through every hoop so far, jumped every hill, done everything they needed to do over and over again.”

Pechter and Ravai have been working on the mountain bike skills facility for at least three years.

In June of 2014 council approved development of the facility on a 3.2 acre site adjacent to the Beaver Lodge Lands on Dogwood Street but plans fell through after complaints from neighbours near the proposed site led to the discovery that the land was not owned by the city.

Not to be deterred, the society came back to council with the Sportsplex location last August and at a public consultation session received support from 20 people who attended.

Ravai described the facility as a place for beginners to learn the ropes in a safe environment and discover how to use their bikes. She said the facility will also help develop local athletes, be a tourist draw and in turn, help with economic development.

Mayor Adams agreed that with the amount of quality mountain bike trails in and around the Campbell River area, there is a need to have a venue where bikers can learn to ride safely.

“There’s no question that a mountain skills park is an asset to the community,” Adams said. “When you look at the phenomenal trails we have in the Snowden and even the ones through the Beaver Lodge Lands…having a bike skills park prepares people before sending them out into the bush which subsequently reduces the amount of visits to the emergency room.

“Thank you for your dedication and perseverance. I look forward to this facility finally coming to fruition.”

Ron Bowles, the city’s corporate services manager, told council that city staff will add Ravai and Pechter’s funding request to the city’s 2017 financial plan as a Service Level Change Request. Council is expected to debate next year’s budget in mid-December.

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