Track’s future still uncertain
Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 09:03 am
An Okotoks cycling club is spinning its wheels over the continued uncertainty of its future.
Members of the Okotoks BMX Club asked town council to sign a lease agreement for its track and/or land to move to another location, but were told no agreements can be made until this fall.
Rick Quail, the Town’s Municipal Manager, said the Town is awaiting bids and design proposals for the expansion of its operations centre north of the track and the development must be first approved before committing to a long-term tenure with the club. He said the club can maintain its existing location this year.
Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson said council must also determine if the Town can continue to accommodate the BMX track in its current location.
“I’m very supportive of keeping it in Okotoks and expanding it if at all possible,” he said. “If you lose that location you have another location to go to. We have provided that assurance. This council is all about supporting youth activities.”
Steve Mysek, Okotoks BMX Club past president and new facility liaison, said he isn’t surprised the club is being asked to wait.
“That’s the answer we always get, not what we were hoping for,” he said. “We’ve been looking for this commitment and obviously a long-term plan for quite a long time now.”
Mysek said growth of the BMX track is inhibited by the 32 Street bridge, completed in 2010, and expansion of the operations centre. Before bridge construction began, the club was considered a top-level track in Alberta, able to accommodate provincial championships.
Although it boasts one of the highest memberships per capita in Alberta, Mysek said the club has a hard time getting provincial riders to use the track.
The lack of space is holding the club back from expanding and keeping up with other clubs, he said.
“The current location we are at right now there’s been a lot of uncertainty around it since the bridge construction and town operations expansion,” he said. “We are just not sure what’s going to happen to us.”
While other clubs are growing and expanding, Okotoks BMX Club is falling behind, Mysek said.
“Our track is geared for the novice rider up to 12-years-old,” he said.
“Once they get older our riders disappear and go to other tracks they can train at.”
Mysek hopes the Town will provide a three to five year commitment at its current location to give the club time to find a long-term location.
Construction north of the track is on land the club used for off-land training, Mysek said. Now it’s not safe for riders, he said.
“We need to be moving forward,” he said. “Our grants depend on it. Future funding depends on it. If we can’t get those grants we obviously cannot move forward with what we want to do.”
In addition to a short-term commitment for the existing track, the club is asking the Town for a donation of five acres of land for a new facility to incorporate a track, space for parking, concession, registration building, spectator seating and bike pit. The club is also asking for access to power, water and restrooms.
Mysek said the 10-acre Foothills-Okotoks Regional Field House west of Aldersyde would provide adequate space to build a national-sized BMX track.
If the town doesn’t provide land for a new facility the club must look at other communities or districts, Mysek said.
“We have to right now look at all and every option that’s best for our members and our club,” he said, adding the club’s ultimate goal is to be one of the top BMX facilities in Canada. “Our first choice is the Town of Okotoks. We’ve been here since 1997.”
Despite the wait, Mysek is glad to have use of the track for this season.
“We are good to go for this year,” he said. “We will make do with what we have and we will make the season a success.”