The Brant Cycling Club will use a $150,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to build a bike skills park in Waterworks Park.
The bike park, which would include a pump track, would be built and opened in 2017.
City councillor Rick Weaver, vice-president of the cycling club, announced the Trillium funding during the club’s annual general meeting on Saturday.
“That’s a major step for Brantford’s bike culture and it’s a huge step for our club,” Weaver said.
“We want to keep the momentum going from our announcement here,” said Duncan Ross, club president.
Next steps are holding community consultations, formalizing a partnership with Jay Hoots of Hoots Inc. and beginning construction in early 2017.
Hoots, a former professional mountain biker who grew up in Brantford, is a leader in bike park, trail and pump track development with more than 50 projects across Canada. The Sunnyside Bike Park in Toronto’s west end is one example of his work in Ontario.
The City of Toronto invested $500,000 in the bike park. Weaver called it the “Cadillac” of bike parks.
The $150,000 Trillium funding is enough to build Brantford’s first bike park but Weaver and Ross are continuing to look for financial support from service clubs and in-kind donations from local companies for the project.
“If we’re able to increase the funds that we have then we’ll be able to build a larger park,” Ross said.
Weaver said it’s his goal to build Brantford’s first official bike park without need for taxpayer dollars.
The club plans to hold community consultations and in particular wants to hear from kids, Weaver said. “We really want to make sure that we’re building something that the kids are going to want to use.”
“Jay Hoots will be a part of that whole process as far as leading the consultations and getting that feedback and then incorporating that into his design,” Ross said.
Weaver said every municipality that’s opened a bike park is “blown away” by the usage.
Hamilton opened a pump track in Gage Park last August. Weaver said that according to a city report, the municipality expected users to ride 100 laps a day. The actual total from the day the park opened on Aug. 13 to the end of the month was 74,000 laps.
“Kids are going there before school to use it. Then they’re riding their bikes to school and then they’re going there directly after school. That’s what we really want to get to. We want to make sure kids are getting out and getting active,” Weaver said.
Ross outlined highlights for the club in 2015, which included formally incorporating, launching a website, initiating a youth mountain bike program, organizing group road and trail rides and taking part in special events, including the Ride Don’t Hide fundraising ride for the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“It’s absolutely amazing what we have been able to do,” he said.
The focus in 2016 is increasing membership, trail development and maintenance and advocacy.
An example of the advocacy is meeting with County of Brant about widening and improving road shoulders for road riding, Ross said.
The club also hopes to partner with the Grand River Conservation Authority to develop mountain bike trails, he said.
The club’s annual membership fee is $30 and riders must also take out insurance for $40 through the Ontario Cycling Association.