Feature Story                                                                                                         Friday March 23, 2012


The Wheel Deal

Island 22 bike skills park a step closer to becoming reality

Craig Hill/Voice photos


The new Island 22 Bike Skills Park as it looked on Wednesday, should start seeing riders by late spring.  

orkers were busy spreading Navi Jack on trails in the new Island 22 Bike Park when Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz and her husband Jim, city councillor Stewart McLean and parks manager Doug Wilson along with members of the local media, met with world-renowned bicycle park designer Jason Hoots for a trail tour.

The park within a park runs adjacent to the gatehouse and should be buzzing with stoked mountain bikers of all shapes and sizes sometime later in the spring after the completion date was pushed ahead to mid-June due to the wet weather.           

The land which has been scraped clean and the "danger trees" such as cottonwoods cut down, is completely visible from Cartmell Road but will eventually be hidden from view in 3 or 4 years as the park is re-planted with native species.

"We're going to let it grow back straight to the wild," said Hoots.

The cottonwood trees have all been converted to toilet paper and the 40 cedars that were removed will be milled into lumber to be used in various structures and features around the park.

"We got great market value and received $16-$18,000 in refund money back into the park from toilet paper."

City parks manager Doug Wilson talks with Mike Hellinger from 98.3 Starfm.

Initially plans called for about 400m of trails but that expanded to 1.5 KM as work progressed.                                    

"You'll come off of the main trail and actually ride a bunch of ladder bridges, and that takes you out to the same trail as the river," said Hoots. "You'll come off some jump lines and then some rollers."

According to Hoots, the park will have areas for all skill levels and referred to the trail system as a "hot wheels" track loaded with pumps, jumps, berms and banks.

"Riders will be able to work on some bigger skills, ride logs, rollers and ladder bridges, get brushed up and then come over and ride the progressive dirt jumps, and then come back on a return line so that riders won't jump just straight lines but sort of move around, make it basically like a roller coaster," explains Hoots.

"Then we've got a drop zone here so that people can safely learn how to drop their front wheel over ledges and small drops and things, get them comfortable with that before they go out into the hills, and then off to the left hand side, we're working on expert lines right now which is where we got the largest amount of feedback from the local riders and this has definitely been the most unique feedback that we've had."

Hoots said they've gotten quite a bit of precedent-setting feedback from the local ridership.

"This was pretty specific in focus and we've never really had that user group in any other park come out that loudly and have that one unified voice. Generally we'll get a lot of the higher-end users, half will split one way and half will split the other way and they can't come to some sort of agreement, here, it's not fractured at all. Everybody was like 'this is what we want and that's how we want it'."

There will be a place where riders can test their ability and learn trick jumps before actually hitting the dirt.

Unlike the west side skate park where users modified jumps causing safety concerns, this park won't face those issues because it will cater to beginners, intermediate and advanced riders however Wilson says they may expand on the trails and jumps in the future.

"We don't want individuals just coming into the park, building something that they think is useable, and if the standard isn't there then the liability isn't there then there's concerns that way, so we want to make sure if we're going to make an expansion, it's going to be done like this, maybe not to the level, but you can add over the course of time, smaller amounts that are done to a high level of standards," he said.

"People came in and there was basically just one level and people felt they had to modify the jumps, so they came in with their shovels and left their shovels there and it became very dangerous, so here they'll have a myriad of opportunities," added Gaetz of the skate park.

Wilson says the skills park ties in nicely with the "Experience the Fraser" and Island 22 will be the focal point by providing multi-level recreation opportunities from Hope to Chilliwack.

"It's not just about hiking or fishing or equestrian, this is one component where we're trying to enhance that world class vision of the province and Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District share, so here we are putting a bike park next to the Fraser River. It's one more entity and buy-in for that whole process."

The park will mesh seamlessly with other recreational users such as the equestrian and fishing but staff will keep an eye on things nonetheless.

"One of the things we looked at was where we were going to situate this type of a bike park where it wouldn't impact the other types of recreational user groups," said Wilson. "This site was chosen because this is our gatehouse, so during our peak times of use, this is basically operated from 5 A.M. to 6 A.M. through to 10 P.M. and with the gatehouse staff on-site that's probably as good a supervision and direction as you're going to get."

At the moment, most go to Whistler and Kamloops and so by adding a bike park, City coffers will reap the benefits.

"The good news is we have a $200,000 bike park and we're really looking forward to the partnership with the regional district," said Gaetz excitedly, adding that the tourism aspect will bring in added revenue.

"This is going to be a destination place for people that enjoy this kind of activity and it will pay off in the entire region with hotels and restaurants."

The City won't be liable in case of accidents but staff in the gate house will have basic survival first aid in case of emergency and will be able to call for an ambulance if necessary, but bikers will be notified with signage that using the park is at their own risk and safety gear such as helmets are recommended.

Day parking will be $5 and a season parking pass will be available for $25.


If people want to help out they can connect with Hoots through their Facebook page @island22bikepark.



Island 22 Regional Bike Park FAQ courtesy of City spokesperson Starlee Renton.

Q. What's the purpose of the Island 22 Bike Park and who is it for?

A. The Island 22 Regional Bike Park is being developed to provide a fun site for non-motorized bike riders of all abilities to progress in their skill as a rider. The site features get progressively harder to ride as the user moves from beginner to advanced levels. Expert riders have been consulted and are also being considered in the planning. The completed site will have jump, trail and skills development areas. The area may also be able to facilitate small competitions.

Q. Who is involved in construction and operation of the Island 22 Regional Bike Park?

A. Island 22 is a Regional Park on City of Chilliwack owned land, managed by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) under management agreement. The City of Chilliwack is contributing $200,000 to the Regional District for the development of the bike facility. The FVRD has hired Jay Hoots inc. to consult with the riders, design the jumps and coordinate the construction with the FVRD Parks Department. The bulk of the spending will be done by FVRD Parks with Hoots inc. providing technical direction.

Q. Why Jay Hoots?

A. Jay hoots inc. is a respected and credible company that has created many bike jump facilities around the world. They hail from North Vancouver, a local haven for mountain biking, and have done projects in most BC municipalities. Jay has a strong understanding of riding needs and municipal needs and this has ensured his business has thrived over the past number of years.

Q. What happened to the trees?

A. Prior to the site construction, the FVRD Parks Department evaluated the potential hazards posed by some of the larger cottonwood trees on site. They had a contractor remove any suspect trees. Any cottonwood was then sold for pulp with the revenues used on site. Cedar trees that were removed are being milled into jump structures on site.








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