Ottawa

Carlington Bike Park set to open atop former ski hill

After eight years of planning, community consultation and fundraising, Ottawa's first outdoor bike park is finally taking shape atop a former ski hill in the city's Carlington neighbourhood.

Workers putting finishing touches on project 8 years in the making

Builder Samaël Piché guides a compacting machine down one of the ramps of the Carlington Bike Park (Stu Mills/CBC)

After eight years of planning, community consultation and fundraising, Ottawa's first outdoor bike park is finally taking shape atop a former ski hill in the city's Carlington neighbourhood.

Sentiers Boréals, the Quebec-based company building the Carlington Bike Park, says work is on track to be finished by the end of September.

Former mountain bike racer and BMX coach Samaël Piché, 29, traded in his sneakers for work boots and started the niche company that now builds pump tracks and technical bike parks throughout North America and beyond.

His unique experience and knowledge of what riders want and need in a compact practice area has taken him on projects from the Maritimes to the Prairies, the U.S. and even Australia.

"Our goal is to be finished at the end of September, so now we are quite confident about this," Piché said.

Banks, drops, 'whoops'

The track consists of 300 metres of banks, drops and "whoops" — a series of bumps — where riders can have fun and hone their skills.

The Ottawa Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) has guided the $300,000 project, and the funding has come from a variety of sources including the Ottawa Community Foundation, Mountain Equipment Co-op, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the City of Ottawa. 

Rocks of varying shapes and sizes line the surface of the skills park. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Concerns from nearby residents that the park might impede access to walking trails or damage the local ecology caused a two-year delay, but appear to have blown over.

"We're excited to actually see something happening," said OMBA board member Sandra Beaubien.

Open to all

The OMBA said it hopes the outdoor bike park — Ottawa's first — will help cut down on the number of unsanctioned trails in forested areas of the city.

The park will be free to use, and Beaubien said she hopes summer camps. school groups and families will take advantage of it.

First though, she'd like to see the many volunteers who shepherded the project along for nearly a decade get a few laps in.

An opening ceremony and community barbecue is scheduled for Sept. 28.

Samaël Piché inspects a blueprint for the bike track (Stu Mills/CBC)

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