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Posted: January 23, 2013

District hears of interest in pump track

Radium Hot Springs has one; so does Golden and Fernie and Cranbrook will have one completed this spring. And some residents of Invermere would like to see one in their town, too.

An example of a pump track.

District of Invermere council last night (Jan. 22) heard from Becca Wright, speaking on behalf of the Purcell Mountain Bike Club, about the benefits of a pump track being installed at Mount Nelson Athletic Park (MNAP), on the west side of the skate park.

Wright described a pump track as “a continuous dirt loop of rollers and in-sloped turns” that cyclists enjoy using.

“It’s something that can be enjoyed by all skills levels and it is very low risk,” Wright said.

The tracks in the other Kootenay communities are enjoying excellent use and they teach kids how to be responsible for a space they enjoy, she continued.

Golden’s track was completed by volunteers and Radium’s recently completed track provides “a bit of a template from which to follow,” Wright told council.

However, the MNAP site wouldn’t have the challenges the Radium track and its organizers (Columbia Valley Cycling Society) face, she noted.

The Radium pump track has “distinct challenges” ranging from available water to its isolated location, she said, adding, “You wouldn’t have that at Mount Nelson.”

Coun. Greg Anderson, former School District No. 6 (SD6) school board of trustees chair, asked if the school district had been approached by Wright and company.

“They were excited,” she replied in the affirmative.

Noting the MNAP location includes space for a planned middle school, Anderson asked if it would encroach on that land?

“It does a bit,” Wright said. “So does the baseball diamond.” That said, she explained the “beauty” of a pump track is it is mostly made of dirt and can be moved with relative ease.

District chief administrator Chris Prosser said he has spoken with SD6 officials and they support the concept as long as liability issues are dealt with. And the middle school plans, he said, “are about 25 years away, minimum.”

Byron Grey, working on the project with Wright as designer, explained the track would be six to eight feet wide, would cover an area roughly 100 by 100 feet and would offer about half a kilometer of riding terrain.

Wright said it would take about two weeks to build and they hope to have the track open by May long weekend.

“The building part won’t be the obstacle. It will be the red tape,” she said, adding the bike club would appreciate receiving the same support the Radium pump track organizers received – $1,000 from the DOI. “I’d like to see that, maybe more,” she said.

While volunteers and in-kind support will be tapped as deeply as possible, “there will be some costs, for sure,” she said, estimating it to cost between $15,000 and $20,000.

Mayor Gerry Taft explained the district’s support for the Radium track came from its Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiative Funds.

Council was overall supportive of the concept.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Coun. Paul Denchuk who said his only concern would be dust, but he also pointed out that Fernie riders take care of that problem by using an available hose to spray down the track before riding it.

Prosser said a sprinkler system would have to be added at the location, if a track was to be constructed.

He also stated that now that a design had been shown to administrative staff and council, “we can fire it off to our insurers” who are concerned about dirt getting onto the skateboard park. He also told council that an agreement would have to be worked out with the bike club for maintenance.

Both Wright and Grey reiterated that the club and users would provide ongoing maintenance.

Part of the experience of the pump track “would be teaching kids etiquette – how to ride it, how to be good about it, how to maintain it – all that good stuff,” Wright said.

The Columbia Valley Cycling Society (CVCS) is supportive of the Purcell club’s ambition.

“Towns all over the Kootenays (including Radium) have municipal tracks and it would be fantastic if Invermere built one, too,” stated CVCS president Adrian Bergles in a letter of support.

Wright said the two clubs are complementary organizations, with the CVCS often focusing on trail building and maintenance and “our club has always been more focused on the educational aspect.”

Taft said the presentation gave council “good background” and something to think about.

“I am very supportive of the concept,” he said, noting the district must now do its due diligence and it will keep communicating with the bike club moving forward.

See presentation:

Above photo: Fernie’s bike park which also features a pump track. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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