A place to race on two wheels at breakneck speeds down winding trails that overlook beautiful lake vistas. That is the vision that one Sicamous resident has for what is now a logging cut block near the base of Owlhead Mountain.
In a presentation to the district council, Corbin Selfe spoke about plans for locating a mountain bike park near Sicamous and the benefits it will bring to the community.
The location Selfe has scouted out for the bike park is approximately two kilometres from the bottom of the Owlhead Forest Service Road near its intersection with the Sicamous Creek Ridge forest service road. According to the plan Selfe attached to his presentation, the bike park will feature a skills park area near the intersection of the two logging roads and a trail network running from the Sicamous Creek Ridge Road down to the very bottom of the Owlhead road.
According to Selfe, the benefits of using the area include its ideal grade for a downhill mountain bike park, its close proximity to town and the accessibility the logging road offers for riders and for the equipment which will be necessary to build parts of the park. The presentation also states there is room for parking and amenities such as washrooms.
Selfe said if everything goes according to plan, the park will be built with trails catering to all skill levels. Possible features of the park would include tech trails, which can be built quickly using only hand tools, flow trails which require equipment, and mulch jumps which allow a softer landing for new riders or experienced ones pushing the boundaries of their skill.
He said construction of the bike park would have low environmental impact as most of the materials needed are located in the area where he thinks it should be built.
A park like the one Selfe proposed also has the potential to create jobs for the area. He said the park would require maintenance and used the Kamloops Bike Ranch as an example of some nearby mountain bike terrain that provides full-time employment.
Selfe used the bike parks at Big White and Fernie as examples of parks that draw lots of riders to the area. He said Sicamous’ location in relation to other mountain bike hot spots makes it an ideal place for a park like the one he is planning.
“Any mountain biker who comes to ride in the Interior will most likely be coming through Sicamous,” he said.
Selfe said he has worked at Big White building trails in their mountain bike park for the past two summers.
Sicamous operations manager Joe McCulloch spoke up in favour of the park, stressing the possible economic growth as businesses such as bike shops and mountain bike helicopter tours gain an opportunity to open up in Sicamous.
He also noted that the proposed location for the park sits in an area which has been identified for wildfire fuel management work. Selfe said the thinning of trees to accommodate trails will also serve to reduce fuel in the area.
Coun. Colleen Anderson said the proposed park fits with Sicamous’ image of sustainability, low environmental impact and an active lifestyle. She asked what he needs to make the vision a reality.
Selfe replied that first and foremost he needs help gaining permission from the province to use the area of Crown land he thinks is suited for the park.
“I like the fact that all ages can use this and all skill levels,” said Coun. Bob Evans.
Evans asked what Selfe is looking at for a desired timeline.
Selfe said he would like to get started as soon as possible but spring and fall are the ideal times for trail building.
“I can’t stress enough how important this would be for our tourism in the off-season as well,” said Coun. Gord Bushell “You see what’s happening in Fernie and in Revelstoke in the spring and the fall; it’s just phenomenal.”
Bushell said options for gaining use of the necessary Crown land for the mountain bike park are: seeking recreational Crown land tenure for the entire mountain which would also allow other recreational projects to be developed, or requesting permission from the province to build the trail under Section 57 of the Forest and Range Practices Act.
Bushell praised the work Selfe has done in planning the park.
Mayor Terry Rysz said a mountain bike park would help attract young people to the community and create jobs for them. He suggested district staff begin investigating a way to fund the park.