Bike riders of all ages will soon have a new place to learn and practice their skills.
Hoots Inc. is coming to Hope this month to build a new bike park as part of the Hope Community Recreation Park project on the Coquihalla River Park property.
“The skills park will be specifically designed to teach riders how fun it can be to ride in the forest so that they can eventually transition out to the forest trails safely,” said Stephanie Hooker with Pathway Partners, one of the project stakeholders. “There is very little beginner and intermediate terrain for kids to learn skills on so that they can safely attempt the more advanced trails. As a result, there is a real lack of mountain bike culture in our community, and existing trails are falling into disrepair. Any kid with a used bike will be able to get to the park and have a great social space, stay physically active, and connect with nature.”
Jay Hoots will be designing the park with a crew of six from his company, working under the supervision of Tri-West Contracting. Hope will be Hoots’ 52nd bike skills project, which includes Island 22 in Chilliwack. To save money on hotels, a house has been rented for two months for the crew but needs to be furnished. Anyone with cots, beds, furniture, or appliances that the crew can borrow is asked to contact Naomi at 604-750-0480.
With the grant money available this year, the footprint of the bike skills park will be cleared of underbrush, and perimeter and access trails will be established. Elements for beginner, intermediate and advanced skills will be built including pump tracks, a wall ride, and dirt jumps. Signage and maps will be also installed, as well as benches and picnic tables in key locations so that parents can supervise their kids. The bike park is considered a multi-year project, and additional elements will be added to the property as funding allows.
“We hope to build a bike culture in our town beginning with our youth specifically. These kids will grow into adults that will build and maintain mountain bike trail networks,” said Hooker, adding that amenity migration is a big issue in the region and has a social and economic impact in rural communities. “Enhancing these amenities in our community encourages young families to remain in our community and it attracts young professionals and families away from the city that are looking for a particular lifestyle. Resident retention and attraction drives our local economy.”
Stakeholder groups are currently working on ways to engage kids and the community once the bike park is built. They are planning riding clinics next spring for youth through organizations like Sprockids, Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association, and the Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program. Stakeholders are also currently scheduling a bike trail construction workshop, taught by the North Shore Mountain Bike Association, to teach youth and adults how to maintain and build new elements in the park. In addition, Hooker said there are local school teachers who are skilled riders themselves that can teach riding clinics and bike maintenance clinics.
The Hope Community Park project has been in the works for a couple years, but hit a roadblock in July 2013 when stakeholders raised concerns about the design, project priorities, the ability for locals to bid on the job, and a perceived lack of communication. District staff worked with the groups to determine a new scope of the project before a request for proposals was issued last October. Tri-West Contracting was the only company to submit a bid.
The local company worked with numerous stakeholder groups in the community to develop the plan for the project, but partnered with Hope Pathway Partners, Hope Motorsports Group and Hope Mountain Centre to carry out the work. By leveraging volunteer labour and discounted materials and services, the work is being accomplished with $463,219 in government funding, 80 per cent from a provincial grant and 20 per cent provided by the District of Hope. Consultant RF Binnie and Associates had initially estimated the project to cost nearly $2.5 million. Hoots Inc. and Spectrum Skates were retained to complete specific elements of the park, based on their expertise and track record as well as their commitment to work with local contractors and volunteers to lower overall project costs. Hope Mountain Centre offered to register and coordinate all of the volunteers on the project, which ensured volunteer supervision, safety, and liability insurance coverage. Pathway Partners, AdvantageHOPE, and the Hope Outdoors Club also came on board. In all, volunteers committed over 171 hours of work and travelled in excess of 1,000 kilometres to put together the proposal.
A lot of behind the scenes work was completed this spring and summer so that construction could begin on time. This included coming to an agreement with BC Hydro on a fencing solution around their transmission station as the Sports Bowl property infringed on theirs. Stakeholders also needed to obtain several permits, such as one from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations to remove hazardous trees from the motorsports event area, walking trails, and the proposed bike park.
The seating area upgrade at the Sports Bowl is now about 80 per cent compete. Tri-West Contracting installed 11 rows of terraced seating on the west side using donated no-post barriers to reinforce the area and increase spectator capacity. Perimeter fencing will separate motorsports activities from the rest of the park amenities, and create a fenced in off-leash dog park during non-event days. Hazard trees and underbrush have also been removed from the bike park area, and perimeter trails have been established. In particular, the main walking trail that winds through the property from the Kawkawa Bridge to Fort Street has been re-routed away from backyards on River Parade Street, and has been lined with boulders. The trail is also now two metres wide, and stroller and wheelchair accessible. Volunteers have donated 260 hours of free labour at the site since June and many value-added initiatives have been accomplished. In addition, Hope Mountain Centre assigned their two- person student trail crew for a combined 46 hours of work on the site.
Skate park improvements are next on the list, which include construction of a rain shelter, and improved elements. Project manager Jim Lasser said the design for the minor upgrades is almost complete and work should begin in the next month.
“The project is progressing as planned,” said Lasser. “We’re on schedule and on track to being completed on deadline. We’re supposed to be done by the end of the year.