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Innisfail takes first step toward bike park facility

Motion approved for town to spend $30,000 for consultant to help develop master plan with a goal of creating new recreational ‘asset’ for the community

INNISFAIL – Town council has approved moving forward with the development of a Bike Park Facility Master Plan that could result in the creation of a yet to be determined location for a pump track.

On May 27, town council at its regular meeting voted 5 – 2 in favour to invest $30,000 into the master plan, funding that will come out of the general operating reserve.

Councillors Jason Heistand and Janice Wing opposed the motion.

“I'm not supportive of advancing this outside of our budget cycle and would just like to see it come back to us in November,” said Wing, noting the town now has $30 million worth of unfunded priorities.

“We have $100,000 on our list now for the recreation and open space master plan. I think that this could potentially fall under that category.”

The issue of a new bike park facility was first brought up at council’s Agenda & Priorities meeting on May 21 when Tammy Thompson, president of the Rotary Club of Innisfail, made a presentation about partnering with the town to develop a pump track on the old BMX location at the bottom of Centennial Hill.

“We have a lot of people that have come to the club and said, ‘hey, is this something you would consider doing?’ We have members that travel to other communities to use the same type of park,” Thompson told the Albertan on May 21.

“If our local members are travelling out of town, why not build a park where they can use it in their own town? Plus, maybe we can attract people from out of town,” she said. “We can attract families; those who build our community.

“It's good for all ages, all genders. It doesn't matter who wants to use it. It’s built for that.”

After almost a week of looking into the idea, Steven Kennedy, director of operational services for the Town of Innisfail, came back to council on May 27 with a “stepped” plan towards the creation of a new pump track with contracted help from outside expert pump track consultants.

“The first phase would be engagement between the town and Rotary club to develop a vision and master plan that fits within the community's long-term plans but is also compatible with regional services that are available,” said Kennedy, who added there will be public input during the process.

He said the work, which would be completed sometime this summer, would include a review of locations in town for the pump track and how it could tie in with the town’s Trail Master Plan.

He said the second phase would be funding, and whether project development would also have to go in phases, from small to more advanced for users.

Council was told by Thompson on May 21 that if council moved forward on the pump track initiative Rotary would look at grant opportunities to fund the project.

And what about whether taxpaying Innisfailians will support the creation a new bike park facility?

Coun. Don Harrison wanted to know whether there had been any formal feedback the town has received or whether it’s “just street talk from two or three residents” who said they would like to have a bike park.

“The first thing is, is it really wanted?  Five people can make a lot of noise and at times we have the tendency to cater to those,” said Harrison. “We're going into another election cycle, and when I look at the lists that are sent out this morning the unfunded liabilities are phenomenal.”

Coun. Dale Dunham and Todd Becker, the town’s chief administrative officer, both said they’ve heard past interest from community citizens for a bike park facility.

Mayor Jean Barclay said she is “very much” in favour of moving forward” and seeing what the plan at least looks like. She added there are grants available for Rotary to pursue.

“I think anytime we can add an asset into the community, and there's a service club willing to put together a legacy project, I think that's only a positive for us,” said Barclay.


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