Trail builder Jay Hoots is back in Hope this week giving the local bike park some much-needed TLC.
Hoots and his crew started out the week with a survey of the park they created back in 2015. Armed with an excavator, rakes, brush saws, shovels and more, they worked back the greenery and built up the moguls.
The Standard caught up with Hoots and fellow trail builder Rick Boles on Monday afternoon, and they said they were excited to be back at the park for a big cleanup. Before they leave at the end of the week, they will be spending some time enjoying the trails.
Hoots Inc. has built 66 bike parks, with about 40 of them in B.C. and Alberta. Bike parks continue to be popular assets for communities, and municipalities are learning that they are great investments as residents reconnect with nature.
A few things happened to start to shift people back out into the woods, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Hoots said. With organized sports all cancelled, and families used to being active, many of them turned to biking — and were happily surprised to find places to play.
“When COVID hit and everybody had to take a collective breath and they were no longer having to rush into hockey rinks and soccer pitches,” Hoots said, “they came out into nature and said ‘wow, nature’s awesome.’”
But that also meant a “massive user group” was now arriving at bike parks and expecting that same “duty of care” they experienced in more organized settings.
“They came out to the forest and said, ‘this is amazing, but why isn’t anyone looking after it?’”
That’s where Hoots and his team come back in. The District of Hope has hired them to come in and care for the park as families get ready to spend more time outdoors. They are giving the park a significant overhaul this week, carrying on with work done recently by a group of about 20 volunteers who spent two hours cleaning up the park. That group raked up winter storm fall and cleaned up garbage.
“We’ll wake it up,” he said of the park. That includes assessing everything and repairing any dangerous areas. They’ll be scraping surfaces right down and raking them, clearing out drainage areas, dealing with branches, and realigning corners on the tracks.
Hoots is seeing municipalities all over place importance on bike parks, which help introduce young people to forests and other natural surroundings. And with municipalities seeing the benefits, including tourism and recreation, they are more likely to ask for funding to create these assets. They need to be built correctly, and taken care of, Hoots stressed.
“There are more and more of these,” he said. “Families are coming here that have never ridden before, so we have to be careful how it’s built.
“Our province is alive with people outside.”
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