City council is moving towards the final approval of formally offering land at Balment Park for a proposed indoor sports facility that would be situated on the existing BMX track course.
A motion introduced by Councillor Ron Popoff and passed in chambers will see the city provide a letter to the Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association that will outline conditions to be met before offering a License of Occupation.
“I think council and staff and KEYSA and all the other stakeholders are finally relieved that there is finally a decision after going on two years to get from the idea stage before council now to the closure,” Popoff said, in an interview after the council meeting.
Popoff’s motion stipulated that any construction-related activities that could interfere with the BMX track be put on hold until Sept. 1, allowing BMX users a full season to take advantage of the track and hold planned provincial- and national-level races.
Once the racing season is over, Popoff’s motion also mandated that the city assess track usage and determine where to go from there, in terms of where a suitable replacement location — in Balment or beyond — would fit.
Popoff’s motion also included the provision that KEYSA is not responsible for any costs to move the BMX track.
“When you look back at it, lets find a suitable, great new home for the BMX track, lets hope they have a great season this year,” Popoff said. “They’re telling us in writing that they’re going to have one or two national and provincial championship events here; lets hope they’re successful and lets carry that momentum forward to find a proper new home for the BMX track.
“And there’s frankly some really good locations here around town.”
A statement from the Cranbrook Bike Skills Society expressed disappointment with council’s vote and asked how a not-for-profit society is expected to pay for the construction of a new course.
The statement also lamented the loss of contributions from local businesses who supported the existing track and the thousands of volunteer hours put in to build it.
“I ask council why the thousands of dollars that have been put into the track are being discounted completely when you voted that KEYSA should not be financially responsible for the relocation of the Cranbrook BMX track — even after KEYSA agreed to be financially responsible both publicly and formally to council,” reads the statement.
“Who now is to be responsible for the cost to rebuild? You are asking a youth sports group to redo all the hard work that has been done, try to again fundraise enough money to complete a project for our youth and families that was just completed within the year.
“Is the message our council is sending that if you do not have a million dollars your sport is not welcome in Cranbrook?”
According to a staff report, the Cranbrook Bike Skills Society estimates it will cost $92,000 to rebuild the existing track at another location within Balment Park. The cost includes hiring a BMX track builder, removing and screening material, bringing in finishing clay, rebuilding the concrete starting pad and labour but doesn’t include heavy equipment rental.
Costs to rebuild the BMX track will increase if it has to be relocated outside of Balment Park, according to the report.
The report notes that costs can be mitigated through grants from the Columbia Basin Trust and the city could potentially provide some in-kind services with heavy equipment and operators, however, those discussions haven’t been had yet.
During the discussion on Popoff’s motion, Councillor Norma Blissett reiterated the city’s support in finding a replacement location for the BMX track.
However, Blissett also extolled the benefits of the indoor facility in Balment Park, noting that it would be in a centralized recreation hub that includes Western Financial Place, the Cranbrook Curling Club, Memorial and Kinsmen Arenas and the Mount Baker Secondary School soccer fields.
“That’s our main recreation hub for all citizens and I just want to say, this facility — all the work has been done by volunteers,” Blissett said. “We’re looking at a $1.3 million facility being provided to the citizens of Cranbrook at no cost to the citizens of Cranbrook. That’s a wonderful thing and I hope the volunteers that have worked hard over the last more than two years on this realize that we appreciate the work they’ve done on this.
Prior to Popoff’s motion, council had received a report from staff on the challenges of a proposed ‘Option Six’ which would have shoehorned the indoor facility into a space between the curling centre and the existing BMX track.
That would have taken up the first two rows of parking at the Cranbrook Curling Club and potentially impacted necessary operating space at the top of the ramp into the bowels of Western Financial Place.