Wheels are in motion for Jasper to create its own mountain bike park.
Preliminary plans to build a skills park on the west end of town on lands designated for greenspace have been gaining momentum. Park planners and municipal administrators appear supportive of the concept and a cycling-based working group is building a business plan to ensure their vision of community collaboration doesn’t become derailed.
“This could be a great addition to what the community already has,” said Matt Staneland, who presented the idea to Jasper’s Culture and Recreation board on March 13.
The proposed location, adjacent to the Discovery Trail in between the CN right-of-way and Connaught Drive, currently contains existing rudimentary dirt jumps.
Staneland, the current chair of the Jasper Park Cycling Association, said the timing is right to push for non-traditional sport infrastructure in Jasper. He and other members of the JPCA foresee a facility where bikers of all ages can learn to ride in a safe, progressive and sustainable bike playground. A pump track, dirt jumps and an area containing a range of riding features are all conceivable elements which would work to develop local biking —and develop Jasper as more of a biking destination, Staneland said.
“This doesn’t have to be huge and extravagant...it just needs to compliment our existing trail system,” he added.
Initial consultations with leading bike park designer Jay Hoots have led the JPCA to speculate the park could carry a price tag of approximately $150,000. Corporate sponsorships and grants will make up part of the JPCA’s business plan.
Liability concerns and environmental assessments notwithstanding, local administrators have indicated their initial support of the idea. Research into what precipitated Hinton’s highly-praised bike park has highlighted the strong relationship between the Town of Hinton and area bikers. While the Hinton Mountain Bike Association was the driving force behind the park, the town has been, and remains, supportive of volunteers’ enormous efforts.
“To have a successful bike park you need a strong club,” Staneland said.
JPCA’s anticipated timeframe for a Jasper mountain bike park is two or three years. Staneland, who toured the proposed site with his three-year-old daughter last week, was excited for the future of Jasper cycling.
“She’s the reason I want to build this,” he smiled.