British Columbia

Collisions with runners prompt calls for separate walking track at Bear Creek Park Oval

Track-and-field organizers to present safety concerns to Surrey's Park Committee; park redesign is on the way.

Track-and-field organizers to present safety concerns to Surrey's Park Committee; park redesign is on the way

Track organizers say there's been injuries due to collisions between runners and walkers at the busy Bear Creek Park Oval. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Surrey's Bear Creek Park Oval is known for its smooth turf. But for the runners who use it everyday, there can be some speed bumps.

The track is frequented by seniors, professional athletes, families, schoolchildren, and pets. If you ask Stephen Terry, president of the South Fraser Track Club, it can get overcrowded to the point where people get hurt.

His daughter was injured on the track when two walkers veered into her lane while she was practising 200-metre sprints.

"So she, at full speed, jumped out of the way to avoid them, planted her left foot on the inside concrete curb, and jammed her ankle," he told CBC News.

"As a result, it took her out for the remainder of the season."

Stephen Terry, president of the South Fraser Track Club, says his daughter will no longer train on the crowded Bear Creek Park Oval. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Walkers aren't supposed to use the track during designated practice times, but Terry says many do it anyway, and there have been collisions. Safety concerns have prompted calls for a separate walking track in the park.

Those calls may be answered as the city looks to remodel the park.

The oval is closed to the public on weekday evenings, but athletes say many walkers defy the rules. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

A long-term plan

Terry says the Bear Creek Park is showing its age and is due for a major upgrade. Surrey City staff are in the midst of designing a new track and field stadium for the park.

After the city suspended several community projects last year in an attempt to get spending under control, the Bear Creek Park project was not cut from the budget.

According to city Coun. Allison Patton, the city envisions a "world class" facility at the park that could host international competitions.

Features will include a stadium plus a separate track for walkers.

"The Bear Creek facility will allow for amateur sports, walkers, professional sports, the football group, so for quite a few stakeholders to be involved," Patton told CBC News.

Walkers will get their own designated track as the city looks to build a new stadium inside Bear Creek Park. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

While construction for the stadium won't begin for several years, planning for the designated walking track will begin as early as this summer.

It's welcomed news for track-and-field organizers like Stephen Terry, but he hopes walkers will be mindful in the interim.

"We need to do what we can to get kids out, and track's a great sport," said Terry.

"And once a stadium is actually built, that will attract more attention. It won't only make it safer for the athletes, but safer for the general public."

Terry is part of a group that will present safety concerns surrounding the current track to Surrey's newly elected park committee on Friday.

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