After financial issues and Covid-19 setbacks, Tuesday marked a literally groundbreaking day for the Yellowknife Mountain Bike Club.
Phase one of a three-part bike park in Yellowknife has officially started with the construction of a pump track next to Bristol Pit. The park will be named after Mike Haener, who was an advocate for kids on bikes and organized the Rotary bike auction for years.
Volunteers from the bike club and Yellowknife Rotary Club gathered on Tuesday evening to measure dimensions for the pump track and clear trees ahead of the construction company’s arrival in Yellowknife.
The pump track will be free and open to the public. The bike club has been working toward this project since 2017, while its land lease was approved in June.
A pump track is a smooth, paved crater in the ground with twists, turns, and hills. The tracks are designed for people to build skills on any kind of wheels, like mountain bikes, rollerblades, skateboards, and even wheelchairs. The pump track in Yellowknife will be roughly 26 by 26 metres.
“This is for everyone to be able to come and use,” said Dany Major, a member of the mountain bike club and a director of the project. “The idea is to have features that are meant for little people on starter bikes to all ages.”
There are even world-class competitions held on pump tracks, where people are judged on their speed and the height and style of their jumps. The construction company installing the Yellowknife track, Velosolutions, built a track for the Red Bull Pump Track World Championships in 2019.
Velosolutions, in partnership with the Canadian Ramp Company, will arrive on August 16 to begin construction. Workers will have two weeks to complete the project. Until then, volunteers must clear and level out an area for the track.
Yellowknife Rotary Club has donated funding to set the first phase in motion. Ace Enterprises will donate a significant portion of the materials needed to construct the track, while Konge Construction is lending equipment.
“This is totally a community-driven initiative. Of course, we’ve had a lot of support from the City of Yellowknife, but the funds have been raised from the community,” said Lillith Brook, a member of the YK Mountain Bike Club.
The Yellowknives Dene First Nation has expressed concern about the environmental impact of the pump track and its proximity to the Lakeview Cemetery. In June, when the track’s land lease was approved, the First Nation requested a land acknowledgement plaque at the site.
Shannon Jennings, vice president of the YK Mountain Bike Club, said the club was in communication with the First Nation about the bike park and had held a site walk with Fred Sangris to learn about the history of the area. The pump track will be built on an old portage trail.
“We really want to hone in on the importance of this area to the Yellowknives Dene, and we are looking forward to conversations about that to really figure out what needs to come through in the land acknowledgement plaque that will be at the heart of the site.” Jennings said.
The Yellowknives Dene Drummers will attend the pump track’s opening ceremony, which is anticipated some time in September.