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Provincial grant puts BMX club on track for new race course

A $550,000 grant from the provincial government has helped the St. Albert BMX Association meet its' funding goal for a new Olympic-calibre track, which will be the first publicly accessible track of its' kind in Canada. 
Local BMX rider Sam Terashita, 8, shows off an oversized cheque for a provincial grant the BMX Association received to fund the construction of a new Olympic-calibre track in Riel Park. JACK FARRELL/St. Albert Gazette

The St. Albert BMX Association has met its funding goal for a new Olympic-calibre track with the help of a $550,000 grant from the provincial government. It will be the first publicly accessible track of its kind in Canada. 

Morinville-St. Albert MLA Dale Nally made the announcement on Jan. 20, and presented BMX Association president Mike Hook and a handful of local youth riders with an oversized cheque at the track in Riel Park. 

Construction on the new track, which will replace the current one, will begin this winter in hope of re-opening on Canada Day, said Hook. 

"We're going to start really early," Hook said. "There's a lot of hustle going on right now."

While the entire design of the course will see significant modifications, the major change is the new track will have two starting hills: an eight-metre and a five-metre. 

In BMX racing, an eight-metre starting hill is the professional standard, while anything smaller accommodates youth and amateur riders. The current starting hill is roughly six metres. 

By having an eight-metre starting hill, the track will be able to host World Cup races and other professional championship events, which Hook says can bring thousands of riders to St. Albert.

"We're shooting for the 2025 World Championships and that will be between 3,500 to 4,000 riders, and they will come from everywhere," he said.

However, being able to host events of that magnitude is just an added bonus for the club, as the track will give local riders like 10-year-old Ethan Moore, the opportunity to go further in the sport.

"I think why I'm really excited is so that I can watch all the older kids ride down the super track," Moore said in an interview. 

Moore, who has been riding at the St. Albert track for almost three years, said he plans to take after older riders as he continues to compete. 

"This is their track, first and foremost," Hook said of St. Albert's youth riders. "I want to see a track full of six-year-olds."

"I want a kid that's living over in Lacombe Park to be able to ride their bike down and go ride around the track," he said. He added the club plans to have the track open every day this summer. 

After being given a crash-course on the ins and outs of BMX bikes, Nally said the new track will put Alberta on the map for the sport. 

"We're thrilled about this announcement because this announcement will make us the premier destination in Canada for BMX training and development," Nally said.

"I am absolutely thrilled because we were able to get this through a community grant and [the BMX Association] had reached out to me and we identified it as a significant need for St. Albert. And we fought really hard and worked with the minister to get this, and I'm pleased that it all came together," he said. 

The grant, which comes through the province's community facility enhancement program, comes after the BMX Association received a $50,000 grant from the City of St. Albert's community capital grant program last May.

Hook told The Gazette at that time the project's estimated cost was $1.2 million, but on Jan. 20 he said the estimate now sits between $800,000 and $1 million.

With the help of Alberta BMX Supercross Association board member and track director Kyle Reiling, Hook said the cost was reduced by efforts to secure some services and materials for free. 

"[Reiling] really juggled to try and figure out how we could get the money down," said Hook. 

"There's still going to be some sponsorships we're looking for and all those kinds of things, but as far as actually getting the track done, we're golden."

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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