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Grandin residents cool to bike park

Wednesday's public event drew out dozens of people to provide feedback on two proposed mountain bike skills park

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 06:00 am

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  • CROWD DRAWN – On Wednesday, a public open house related to the location of a mountain bike skills park drew dozens of residents. Another event is scheduled for Saturday at the Grandin Clubhouse.
    CROWD DRAWN – On Wednesday, a public open house related to the location of a mountain bike skills park drew dozens of residents. Another event is scheduled for Saturday at the Grandin Clubhouse.
    APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette
  • SUPPORT FOR RIEL – The city is considering two potential sites for a mountain bike skills park, one in Grandin and one in Riel. As shown by these stickies, many attending an open house at Sir George Simpson school (in Grandin) would prefer that the park be located in Riel.
    SUPPORT FOR RIEL – The city is considering two potential sites for a mountain bike skills park, one in Grandin and one in Riel. As shown by these stickies, many attending an open house at Sir George Simpson school (in Grandin) would prefer that the park be located in Riel.

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If a vote was decided based on sticky notes posted up with resident reaction at the bike skills park open house Wednesday, the proposed facility would be heading for the Riel site.

About 60 people attended the open house at Sir George Simpson Junior High School to ask questions and give feedback on the two sites proposed for the long sought-after bike skills park, one located in Grandin in Gloucester Park and the other in the Riel industrial area.

“Hands off Gloucester Pk!” read one sticky note. “Riel park only,” read another. Most of the notes posted halfway through the evening carried similar messages.

Bev Kelly and her husband were there to encourage the selection of the Riel site over Gloucester.

“I’m actually quite opposed [to the Gloucester site],” Kelly said. She’s a long-time Grandin resident whose property abuts the park.

Kelly’s concerns about the location were the lack of bike trails connecting the park to the trail system, increased noise levels, loitering, more litter and anticipated parking problems.

“It’s the only green space in the area,” she said. “It’s a nice neighbourhood park.”

Neil Lavallee, 23, is an avid cyclist who just wants a bike skills park to be built somewhere in St. Albert.

“Either are good,” Lavallee said.

He’d like to see the park built so there’s more to do in St. Albert for youth and the skateboard park would be less crowded. He said the lack of facilities for young people in the city are a reason he’d like to move away.

“I can’t wait to leave,” Lavallee said.

When asked which site he thought was best, he suggested Riel would be most acceptable to the general public.

“The Riel one would be nice because then residents can’t complain about an eyesore,” he said.

Local environmentalist Elke Blodgett raised flags about the environmental issues around building the site in Riel along the river.

“It’s really an industrial site,” Blodgett said. She said the trail would need to be rebuilt, there are no hills on the site so it’d have to be re-landscaped to make it an appropriate bike skills park and noted other potential environmental concerns, pointing out if the Riel site is selected an environmental assessment would have to be done.

She suggested an abandoned gravel pit or other options might be ideal.

“They have alternatives they could consider,” she said.

Jason Wywal, president of the St. Albert Bike Association and part of the bike park advisory committee, was on-hand throughout the night to answer questions.

“It was a pretty positive night,” he said on Thursday morning. He said most of the comments were questions or concerns about the Gloucester Park site.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of concern about Riel,” he said. They weren’t surprised to hear the anti-Gloucester Park site sentiments, though he said it’d be the most ideal to develop for a bike park.

“The Riel location is the less ideal from a cycler perspective … but it’s the most ideal from a logistics perspective,” he said.

At this point, after waiting for years for a site, he’s hoping the results show one of the two currently proposed sites could be used.

“Quite honestly, we will be happy to have a park,” he said.

Chris Jardine, the city’s general manager of community and protective services, said the feedback gathered through the open houses on Wednesday and Saturday as well as the online survey will influence the report and recommendation staff give to council.

“It will be significant,” Jardine said of the feedback’s impact. He said the message being received, that residents would prefer the site not be located in Gloucester, has been “pretty consistent.”

If the site is in Riel, an environmental assessment would be needed, Jardine confirmed. Unless council chooses to top up the budget set aside for the whole project, they’d have to do the assessment and build the park for $200,000.

“Our marching orders is $200,000,” Jardine said.

The report which will incorporate the feedback is scheduled to appear before council March 24.

“That will recommend a site,” Jardine said.

Wednesday night’s turnout was one of the best he’s seen at an open house he’s been involved with, Jardine noted.

Saturday’s open house is at the Grandin Clubhouse at 5 Grenfell Avenue from 1 to 3 p.m. There is also an online survey that’s available until Jan. 24.

For more information on the proposed bike skills park, check out the city’s webpage, www.stalbert.ca/bike-skills-park.


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