Proposed bike riding park divides Carlington residents
Community association conducting survey on proposal for Carlington Park
A proposal to build a recreation area and trails for cyclists within an existing Ottawa park is threatening to divide the Carlington community.
The Ottawa Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) is proposing a park with a circuit of small hills and jumps called a "pump track," a mountain bike skills area, dirt jumps, and trails designed for riders of different skill levels.
The features would be added to the southern and western edges of Carlington Park, eventually taking up about half of the park area over four phases of construction.
The City of Ottawa supports the project in principle, and River Ward Coun. Riley Brockington says while he's watched the process cautiously, he calls it unique opportunity in central Ottawa where little mountain biking is available.
'This seems like a good fit'
"This seems like a good fit," said Brockington. "We have an opportunity that aligns with what the city is looking for to maximize opportunities at our parks and green space now."
The councillor calls OMBA a credible, local organization with a record of successfully establishing riding parks in places like the South March Highlands. He adds the riding park here wouldn't have to be permanent.
The Carlington Community Association has created a survey to gauge how residents feel about the idea.
Fears of Conflict
But resident Jim Richards has already made up his mind about what will happen when what he calls an "arrogant mob" of cyclists takes control of the parkland.
The retiree provides a dog walking service for his neighbours, and takes up to ten dogs on weekdays to the park and the reservoir lands to the south. "I think it'll just become a great big mud hole that pretty much nobody else is going to feel that they can use," said Richards.
Ryan Janssens, who walks his dog twice daily in the park, disagrees. "It's a huge hill. I'm sure everyone will get along," he said.
Janssens believes the area needs more recreation opportunities for the families living there. "There's lots of baseballs fields, but that's more of an organized sport. Biking you can go out and do on your own, any time you want."
'Our goal is not to take over the park'
"Our goal is not to take over the park...and prevent other uses. That's the whole point of community consultation," said OMBA's David Marchand-Smith. The bike park has been a part of his imagination for Carlington since he lived and walked his dog in the area.
OMBA first took the idea to the city nearly four years ago. Since then, Marchand-Smith says the group's focus has been on making the design fit in with the central Ottawa location.
"A lot of the bike parks that I've seen elsewhere, I don't find particularly aesthetically pleasing. A lot of them look like a construction site, frankly. For us, landscaping is a major factor. We want this thing to look nice, as well as be fun to ride," he said.
"We really think it's an addition to the park, not something that would take away from it."
Environmental assessment promised
Ketchum wants to assure residents the decision won't be rushed.. "We're still getting feedback. If we get to a point where we need to take a bit more time — say, over the summer, then, we'll do that."
The results of the survey will guide a formal motion on whether or not to approve the OMBA plan at the community association's annual general meeting on May 25.