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Bike park meeting draws negative views

Speakers at town hall in favour of putting park in Riel, not their residential area

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Saturday, Mar 08, 2014 06:00 am

PARK ELSEWHERE – Resident Gordon McInroy speaks against locating a proposed mountain bike skills park at Gloucester Park during a meeting held Tuesday evening at Sir George Simpson school.
PARK ELSEWHERE – Resident Gordon McInroy speaks against locating a proposed mountain bike skills park at Gloucester Park during a meeting held Tuesday evening at Sir George Simpson school.
CANDACE ELLIOTT/St. Albert Gazette

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The message to council is clear: the residents want to save Gloucester Park from becoming a bike skills park location.

More than 70 people – including four councillors – packed into Sir George Simpson school’s lunch room Tuesday night. More than 20 people spoke while three more sent emails to be read at the meeting, which was organized by a grassroots resident group.

And while some reassurance came from Coun. Cathy Heron, who spoke at the meeting, residents warned each other to not lessen the pressure on city council to put the bike skills park elsewhere.

“We cannot give up,” said Don Wilson, one of the organizers of the town hall. He urged people to come to the council meeting March 24 when the site selection report is due in front of council.

Issues listed by speakers included concerns about not being able to use the park anymore, the dirt that would be flying around, disruption to wildlife, potential negative impacts on property values, parking and safety.

A common theme for many of the speakers was that Gloucester Park is the only nearby green space for that area’s residents.

“It’s going to affect the green space that we have over in this beautiful area in Grandin,” said Pauline McCormick, who said she wasn’t a Gloucester resident but supported their efforts to keep the park free of bike skills apparatuses. “Do not let this park be built in your backyard.”

Ernie Silverton and others pointed out that the other site being considered, which is in Riel, is not in a residential area.

“We are so lucky to have a super alternative. Riel Park is in an industrial area,” Silverton said.

Heron was joined at the meeting by Couns. Cam MacKay, Sheena Hughes and Tim Osborne.

Heron said the four of them had conferred before she herself got up to speak.

“I can’t guarantee you that it’s not going to go in Gloucester … but what I can tell you is the conversations I’ve had with my fellow colleagues is we’re more in favour of Riel,” she said, though wouldn’t guarantee her vote until she’s read the staff report.

Greg MacIntyre, a member of the St. Albert Bike Association, attended the meeting.

MacIntyre said his group is waiting to hear what council decides. For his own opinion, he said he is biased towards Riel as his kids could get there safely on the city’s trail network.

“I sympathize with everything you’re saying,” he said.


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