NANAIMO — By next summer there will be children of all ages enjoying a community bike park built to honour the legacy of one of Nanaimo's most legendary people.
Council has voted unanimously to commit up to $200,000 towards the Stevie Smith Community Bike Park. That money will be combined with more than $200,000 of in-kind and cash donations raised by several local groups to build the feature at Beban Park. Ground has already been broken and if all goes well, the park should be open in late spring or early summer 2017, according to director of parks and rec Richard Harding.
"It is probably the most profound thing I've been able to be a part of in my life," said Stevie Smith Legacy Fund founder Michelle Corfield. "To see a community unite behind one specific thing and see B.C., Canada and people from around the world contribute to our bike park."
The park, with an overall budget of $412,000, will include a dirt jump, pump track and skills park. Several groups, including the Gyro Club of Nanaimo, have been pushing behind the scenes for years to make it a reality. Harding says the concept has been around for a number of years and a bike park was included in the recently updated and approved Beban Park Master Plan. He says a company out of Whistler will be brought in to help with shaping some of the jumps and positioning some of the ramps.
Steve Smith was born in Cassidy and grew up riding on Mount Prevost near Duncan. He went on to become a legend in the downhill mountain biking world. Nicknamed the Canadian Chainsaw, Smith captured the UCI World Cup Championship in 2013. He died, at the age of 26, after a dirt biking crash in May. Even before the efforts taken up by his legacy fund, Smith dreamed of creating a place for young riders in Nanaimo to hone their skills.
"This is a dream of many," said Corfield. "This is us being able to bring to fruition the dream of Marie Davidson...now we're able to realize her dream for that Beban Park site, we're able to realize Steve's dream in having a dirt jump park and we're really able to unite cycling in Nanaimo."
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On Monday night, councillors went around the table voicing their support for the project. Several of them became emotional watching a video tribute to Smith and hearing Corfield speak.
"This is an amazing thing that will bring people to Nanaimo," said Coun. Jim Kipp.
"Where there's a will there's a way," said Coun. Jerry Hong. "They came to us earlier this year and said they wanted to do this, they said they were going to go out and get some money and they did exactly that."
Corfield says while this bike park will be their signature sponsorship, the legacy fund is moving in many other directions. Earlier this year, through an award handed out at Crankworx in Whistler, they sponsored a young rider to attend the word junior downhill championship this year. She says they will also be supporting the Story Trails group out of Duncan with bikes and helmets. A Stevie Smith memorial cup event is planned at Mount Washington for next September.
"We're going to change the way people see cycling in Canada. We are going to be present and raise awareness about the importance of two wheels."
The Stevie Smith Legacy Fund is hosting a fund raising pig n beer night on Nov. 25 at the Cedar Community Hall. For full details and tickets, check out the Facebook page.
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