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Bike park delayed until next year

The bike park will be located along Connaught Drive across from Maligne Lodge on the west side of town. Image provided by the municipality.

The bike park will be located along Connaught Drive across from Maligne Lodge on the west side of town. Image provided by the municipality.

The construction of a mountain bike skills park in the west end of town won’t begin until the spring of 2018, a year later than initially anticipated.

The Jasper Park Cycling Association (JPCA) had originally hoped to break ground this spring, but due to logistics and a need to secure more funding, the non-profit group decided to postpone development of the park.

“This is an unfortunate delay and we would like to emphasize the excellent progress that has been made so far on this project,” wrote Andrew Loughlin, a board member with the JPCA.

“Community support has been outstanding, with local businesses large and small providing monetary contributions and many individuals purchasing memberships in support.”

To date the cycling association has raised $22,000, enough to pay for the initial design of the park by Hoots Incorporated, a Vancouver-based company that specializes in building bike parks. The cycling association anticipates it will cost $200,000 to complete the entire project.

With the timeline pushed back until next year the organization said it intends to use the summer to finalize logistics and apply for more corporate and government grants.

In a separate, but related issue, Matt Staneland, chair of the JPCA, sent a letter to council on April 18 to clarify a few concerns expressed by councillors about the bike park.

According to the letter, Hoots Inc. will provide insurance coverage during the construction phase including coverage for volunteers who help with the project.

Once the park is completed it will fall under the municipality’s insurance policy, which will include a management plan outlining the various roles and responsibilities of each party.

For example, trained JPCA members will carry out the day-to-day maintenance of the park and will document and submit regular maintenance activities to the municipality. The park will also undergo an audit twice a year to ensure standards are maintained and industry recognized signs will be used to mark different trails and features.

In the event that the JPCA fails to uphold its end of the bargain to regularly maintain the bike park the municipality has several options, including creating a seasonal position, paying a company to maintain the park or restoring it to green space.

The JPCA also sought to downplay concerns about the cost of the project, including dropping a request to refurbish a seasonal water line to the bike park.

Instead the cycling association said it would like the municipality to provide a water tank and hose and commit to filling it when required.

In November municipal staff estimated it would cost the town $35,000 to reestablish an abandoned water line under Connaught Drive in the west end of town.

To secure the municipality’s commitment, Staneland drafted a letter of support for the mayor to sign that also included a $5,000 commitment to the annual maintenance of the park.

According to the draft version of the letter, any funds not used in a given year will be directed into a long-term improvement fund and the amount will increase each year at the same rate as municipal taxes.

Several councillors expressed concern about the language used in the letter and said it would have to be amended before the mayor signed it.

The bike park, which will be located along Connaught Drive across from Maligne Lodge on the west side of town, was approved by Parks Canada in August 2016. The permit for the park is temporary and must be renewed every five years. Parks Canada also retains the right to terminate the permit if the superintendent requires the land for residential development, but can only do so if Parks gives one year’s notice.

Paul Clarke

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