October 09, 2008

Velodrome in peril at Juan De Fuca Recreational Centre

The second race of the Vancouver Island cyclocross series took place in Victoria last weekend. The location was the Juan De Fuca recreation centre, wich is managed by the West shore parks and recreation. The race was a great success and a blast to watch, and I'll write and post about that in the next few days. However, at this point, I want to mention some sad things about the area where it took place. In many ways the recreational area is great. It has a huge indoor swimming pool, Two ice rink arenas, and everything from a Lacrosse box to a Par 3, nine hole golf course. All in all, it's one of the most impressive sports complexes in the Greater Victoria area. However, what makes this one special and sets it apart from the others is the attention they have given to Cycling in the past. There is a velodrome there (1 of 2 in BC and 1 of 7 in Canada), built for the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and two BMX tracks one of which hosted the BMX qualifier for the 2008 Olympics. The West Shore Parks and Recreation which is run by representatives from the City of Langford, The City of Colwood, the District of Langford, the District of Metchosin, the District of Higlands, the Juan De Fuca Electoral area and the town of View Royal, has decided that they need to add an all weather soccer/rugby/CFL arena to the existing facilities. Their choice of location is odd to say the least. They intend to build this complex on top of both the velodrome and the BMX track and have no plans to replace the facilities they intend to tear down. This plan is ridiculous, and when announced to the municipalities of the WSPR there was not even a detailed estimate of how much this would cost. The elected officials in the surrounding municipalities did not seem to annoyed by that, and bleated their support like the good sheep that they are. That is to say all but Mayor John Ranns of Metchosin. Not only did he consult with cyclists in his electorate (which no other mayor bothered to do), and of course the cyclists shot the idea down, but he also had independent parties put together an alternative plan for the all weather field that would not include tearing down the velodrome or the BMX track. Mayor Ranns idea, utilizes one of the three existing outdoor pitches for the all-weather field, and proposes repairs to the infield of the velodrome on the basis that that field is one of the most used field in the sports complex, since it's size is perfect for youngsters and for recreational sports that don't require the full size courts. The Victoria Velodrome society has also launched a lawsuit against WSPR to try and prevent the Velodrome from being torn down. While this is going on, the velodrome has been fenced off and closed until further notice. Hopefully the WSPR will see that there is a need for the cycling facilities. Not only because team sports are not suitable for everyone, and that the BMX track is a great place for kids to get into cycling, but they're also taking away training facilities from some of the nations best cyclists. If the WSPR decide to go ahead with this plan it would be just another blow to cycling in the Greater Victoria area, and we are supposed to be the "Cycling Capital of Canada." Not that we deserve that moniker anyway, but it would just be nice if there was something that indicated that things are turning around for the better not for the worse.

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