Volunteers who run the Rip’n the North Bike Park are requesting the use of the RCMP Flashcam to try and stop dirt bikers and other vandals causing damage to the park.
A core group of volunteers attended the last regular council meeting on July 20 to provide the district with an update on the three-year-old park.
One volunteer, Cathy Fitzpatrick said a number of dirt bikers have been using the park, causing damage to the trails.
“We’ve had problems with motorbikers getting into the park – they are ripping it up which is not good – everytime they go up there it takes us three or four hours to fix it and it’s very discouraging,” said Fitzpatrick.
She added that other damage is caused by kids coming in and partying at the park.
“We’re trying to think of a way that we can keep them out of there,” she said.
One idea was to put in a lockable gate at the park, however the funding for such a project is not available at the moment.
Last year the District of Vanderhoof purchased a security camera for the RCMP designed to catch vandals in the act. The solar-powered camera is mobile and is used in high crime and vandalism areas, taking high resolution images if motion is activated.
“We know that there’s a camera around and we were hoping that we can get it set up at the bike park,” said Mary-Ann Funk, another key volunteer for the bike park.
Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen advised the volunteers that they should speak to RCMP Staff-Sergeant Dave Beach about making the camera available to them. Councillor Darren Carpenter added that any acts of vandalism or damage at the park should be reported to the RCMP as three incident reports are required to move the camera.
“I would suggest every time there is an instance of trespassing or vandalism that you report it to the police no matter how petty – they need ammunition to move it around,” said Carpenter.
“Certainly I want to see someone caught on that thing sooner or later,” he added.
Bike park delegates also updated council on recent maintenance and upgrades being done at the park.
So far this year a core group of volunteers have put in 2000 hours to get the park back in good shape.
“After it was built we let it sit for two years and then we saw what all the drainage problems were,” said Fitzpatrick.
After receiving a $10,000 grant from the Nechako Kitimaat Development Fund Society earlier in the year, a lot of the drainage problems were fixed, and jumps reshaped. Jay Hoots, the Norco pro-rider who built the park, came in earlier in the year to help fix up the park.
“We had Jay Hoots come in again and reshape the jumps and start putting some trenching in,” said Fitzpatrick.
“The park’s in pretty good shape right now and we’ve also planted grass on the slopes to try and establish some of them a little bit more,” she said.
At the moment, volunteers are maintaining the park by fixing motorbike treads in the dirt and rectifying a few other drainage issues as a result of all the wet weather.
As well as the core group of volunteers, one of the initial attack firefighting crews have also been lending a hand at the bike park.
A 20-man unit crew has been using it as a training site and have put in a lot of hours brushing the trails out and removing danger trees.
Funk added that the firefighters cleared a lot of the brush to make it easier for police to see what is going on at the park.
“We’ve had a lot of issues with parties this winter there,” said Funk.
“There’s been a lot of fires and destroying of stuff, so were trying to make it easier, so that when they are up there the police can see them and they’re not hidden,” she said.
In total the firefighters have cleaned up seven kilometres of trails.
“They’ve made us smile – we don’t have the man hours to do that ourselves,” said Funk.
After providing council with an update of what’s going on at the bike park, delegates enquired about the possibility of some financial support from the district.
At the moment, volunteers pick up garbage every year to make the money to pay for the insurance at the park. They also pay for a number of things out of their own pocket since not many people have signed up for bike park membership yet.
“Were trying to grow the bike club and get more membership, but a lot of the people don’t see the need to join the bike club, because they can go ride there any time,” said Fitzpatrick.
At present the bike club has about 14 members, but a lot more than that use the park.
Membership is only $5 a year which helps to pay for general maintenance.
“We would like the municipality to help us out and it sounds like they are willing to,” said Fitzpatrick.
“Once we write a letter they will try and fit us into the budget … so we’re hoping that the money that we can get from them will be paying for the insurance and maybe some maintenance once a year,” she said.
If anyone is interested in becoming a member of the bike park, please go to Omineca Source for Sports and ask for Mary-Ann Funk or Cathy Fitzpatrick.