British Columbia

BMX park hidden for years in conservation area now faces removal by city

A group of BMX riders is fighting to save a grassroots bike park in North Burnaby that's under the threat of removal. Filled with jumps, turns and a skate park bowl, Kush Woods is nearly the size of a soccer field. 

City wants removal of Kush Woods park, which is located in conservation area

Builders and riders have started a petition to save the Kush Woods BMX park. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A group of BMX riders is fighting to save a grassroots bike park in North Burnaby that's under the threat of removal.

Filled with jumps, turns and a skate park bowl, the park is nearly the size of a soccer field. 

But a worker with the City of Burnaby recently stumbled upon the park and the city has requested it no longer be used.

The park, known by its builders as Kush Woods, is located in the Capitol Hill conservation area. 

Chester Jones, a trail builder and rider, said he and other enthusiasts have spent thousands of hours curating and maintaining the park over the years.

"It started out about 25 years ago with some old mountain bikers that came up to build a mountain bike trail," Jones said.

"We came along about halfway through, 14 years ago, and kind of just started digging with them, and found that this place was super conducive to riding BMX and building jumps, and that's what we do for fun, so, you know, we couldn't stop."

A notice from the City of Burnaby posted in the park. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Protected area

The city says the woods are a protected area and the bike ramps and structures may be damaging tree roots and local habitat. They said there's also a liability issue.

"If we discover something that potentially could be dangerous to the public, the consequences of us ignoring that on city land are quite grave, so we generally remove it," said Dave Ellenwood, director of parks for the City of Burnaby.

"In this instance, it's built at the bottom of an unstable slope; that's why we made it a conservation area in the first place."

Some of the caretakers of the park appealed to the city to put their plans on hold and it agreed.  

Jones has also started an online petition to save the Kush woods, which has now garnered nearly 10,000 signatures.

"I know we can do good here and work with the city," he said. "This is completely a labour of love. It's the biggest passion project I've ever been a part of."

Chester Jones, one of the builders and BMX riders of Kush Woods, has started a petition to save the park. The city wants it moved elsewhere. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

But the city is reluctant to let the riders continue to use the trail as it is.

"What we're going to do is give them an opportunity to tell us what their investment has been and their passion is and then we're going to try and direct it toward a place that we can meet that need," said Ellenwood.

The City of Burnaby says Kush Woods has been built at the bottom of an unstable slope, and there are also liability issues with the park. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

'World-class dirt jumps'

Ellenwood said the city is open to partnering with the group to create similar trails at an existing facility nearby, the Burnaby Mountain Air Bike Skills Park. 

However, Jones says the skills park caters to beginners, while Kush Woods provides a venue for professional riders. 

"With BMX in the Olympics for 2020 in Tokyo ... where's a kid to turn to ride world-class dirt jumps?" he said.

The city says it plans to meet with the group in the near future to discuss options. 

The petition calling on the city to save the park has garnered nearly 10,000 signatures. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

With files from Cory Correia

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