In a quest to pump up downtown Squamish's activity, municipal officials are looking to temporarily transform a $3.6 million downtown property into a pump track.
In April, the District of Squamish acquired two acres of industrially zoned Mamquam Blind Channel waterfront land through a provincial government program. While district staff and CN Rail discuss public access agreements to allow people to cross the tracks, municipal employees want to mould the property's earth into a BMX playground.
The track could draw people into the community's heart, said Scott McQuade, Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association president. Last weekend (Sept. 13 to 15), McQuade's hotel was packed and liquor store humming as Squamish hosted the Sea to Sky Nationals BMX Canadian series races.
“Definitely, we felt an impact,” he said.
Down the road, McQuade said he hopes to see a “well-thought out” plan for the lot.
The pump track comes at a good time, said Tom Dowad. He's shutting down a popular pump track on his property near Judd Beach in Brackendale. While he said he's sorry for the inconvenience to users, Dowad plans to rearrange the track and walking trails so as not to adversely affect nearby spawning streams. Both sit within a riparian area, damaging the important waterways, Dowad said.
“I noticed that there are dogs and kids in that creek all the time,” he said. “It's not OK.”
Pump tracks can lead riders into other sports, such as BMX and mountain bike riding, said Jeff Cooke, president of the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA). Unlike a BMX track, with large-scale jumps, a pump track capitalizes on flow rather than pedal power. The sport is taking off in Europe, he added.
“Ideally we would like to see little community pump tracks all over,” Cooke said, noting the tracks fit into small spaces.
Council has staked out the municipally owned property as a key connection between downtown and the waterfront and as part of its Downtown Transformation initiative.
Council hasn't yet determined how long the pump track will remain on the site or what the long-term plan for the parcel is. Citizens will be asked to provide input into the final design, district spokesperson Christina Moore wrote in an email.
Municipal staff identified the pump track as a cheap and easy temporary feature to develop.
“It is an ideal option and is suitable for the lot because the lot is currently mostly comprised of compacted dirt (from which pump tracks are built) and so due to the temporary nature and the materials used, we will not incur costs to build or remove the track,” Moore said.
District planners aim to hand council a report about the initiative within the next couple of weeks.