It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about the long-awaited, sometimes controversial Campbell River mountain bike park.
Work began in the trees beside Alder Street near the Sportsplex some time ago, but it’s taken a long road – or dirt track, even – to get where it is and those working to make the park a reality say even though it may look like the work has been on hold the last while, they’ve been busy in the background making sure it’s still going to be built.
“There seems to be a disconnect between where it’s at and where people think it’s at,” says Campbell River Bike Park Society member Jenna Woods. “I think it’s important for people to know we’re still at it.”
The project itself has a bit of a rocky history.
Back in the spring of 2014, Wendy Ravai and Beth Pecherer first approached the city with a proposal to create the park. Later that summer, council gave approval to the Campbell River Bike Park Society – the newly-created organization behind the effort – to use a parcel of land beside Dogwood Street, adjacent to Beaver Lodge Lands.
But complaints from property owners near the site led to the discovery that the land wasn’t actually owned by the city, so they couldn’t actually give that permission.
Undeterred, the society later came back to council with another pitch, which resulted in the approval for it to use the land between the Skatepark at Alder Street at the Sportsplex.
And then the work began on environmental assessments, getting funding, clearing trees, getting funding, contracting park designers, getting funding, and so on.
Woods, who grew up in Campbell River but spent the last decade or so down in the Kootenays, was excited to hop onboard to help the project when she found out about it upon her return to town last September.
Part of what she’s doing, she says, is local outreach.
“I think they haven’t been as vocal lately about what they’ve been up to, and it’s actually really cool, so I wanted to help them with that,” she says.
What they’ve been up to might not be as physically obvious as shovels in the ground and trucks dumping piles of gravel in the area, but it’s important.
“They’ve gotten all of their environmental assessments done, they’ve got the project broken down into stages, they’ve brought on a company from Quebec called Velosolutions, who just built Nanaimo’s new pump track, which is a phenomenal facility,” she says. “Basically, the right people are working on it and it’s in a good place in terms of how far it is along.”
Now they just need some funds to keep it going.
“We’ve gotten a whole bunch of in-kind contributions from people in the community – whether it’s free gravel or free fuel for the machines to do the work, that kind of thing – but we’re hoping the city will approve us in their budget for next year,” Woods says, adding that she will be surprised if it’s not approved, because of how vocal they’ve been in their support of the project, “but even if they don’t we’ll still find a way somehow.”
Part of her confidence comes from just how generous the community has been throughout the process thus far.
“Everyone has been so great. We’ve been getting lots of commitment letters from businesses offering to helping us with gravel and labour and stuff,” Woods says. “I fully expect that will continue and I encourage anyone wanting to get involved in that way to get in touch. This community is so amazing about just coming together and getting things done.”
Woods also encourages people to follow their Facebook page (@CRMountainBikeSkillsPark) to keep up with upcoming events like family photos this December with a local professional photographer at a local Christmas tree farm where the proceeds will go towards the work still to be done.
They also have a “Donate” button on their website at crbikepark.ca, where those interested can also find out about sponsorship opportunities, keep up with upcoming fundraising events or sign up to volunteer to be part of the project.
For more information, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
With the community’s help, Woods says, they will be able to stay on their current timeline, which will see Phase 1 of the project – the asphalt pump park – begin construction in the spring.