Plans are moving ahead for both the snow skills park and BMX track expansion next to the Pemberton Community Centre, as the facility’s winter component is expected to be up and running soon.
Jeff Westlake, the village’s manager of public works, said Wednesday (Jan. 2) that snow needs to amass at the site, or be brought in from elsewhere, before work can be completed on the snow skills area.
“I would expect that within the next couple of weeks we should be able to compile a good amount of snow and get some items in there,” said Westlake. “Hopefully we can get some more snow and we can get the kids out there with their snowboards.”
The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation announced last month that it was contributing $40,000 towards development of the joint snow skills-BMX park. The village is working with Arena Snowparks to bring the winter elements together, while the bike track has been an initiative of the local Pemberton BMX club.
Although it will be ready to use later this winter, Westlake said the skills park will go ahead this year without one key piece — the start hill that is part of the BMX track plans. He said it will be utilized for the snow park in future winters.
BMX club vice-president Graham Turner said it was hoped that construction on the dirt hill could begin in early December, but high amounts of snowfall pushed plans back to the spring.
However, snow seems to be the major obstacle for the club when it comes to moving ahead with track improvements. Though local officials suggested in the fall that the track’s location under power lines may cause problems with B.C. Hydro height restrictions, Turner said the club’s design proposal has been approved by the provincial Crown corporation.
“Our expansion of the track now moves the start hill out from under the power lines slightly, so it’s all good,” he said.
The hill needs to be constructed to accommodate a hydraulic start gate that the club had donated to it towards the end of last summer.
Once the proposed upgrades are made, Turner said the track will become sanctioned by BMX Canada, similar to the course in Squamish. That will likely mean increased tourist traffic through Pemberton during the summer as cyclists from elsewhere in B.C. will come to ride or compete at the track. Major races are already being penciled in at the track around Canada Day.
“If you talk to the folks in Squamish about the way that track has evolved and the huge turnout that they get, I think it’s going to be really good,” said Turner. “Hopefully, we’ll have a really sweet track that everyone will want to come race at.”
The club’s fundraising efforts are ongoing, as Turner said money from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation “kind of got us halfway there.”
“We raised just over $4,000 at our fundraiser just before Christmas there … so we’re slowly getting there,” he said, noting that the majority of the costs the club will need to cover in the spring will be in acquiring and hauling dirt.
Visit the Pemberton BMX page on Facebook for more club details.