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Great news - Ottawa is getting it's first bike park!

The city wants to establish its first mountain bike park, even though people have opposed establishing the obstacle course in Carlington Park.

The proposed partnership with the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association has been floated in the community and, according to a vote organized by the community association, most people are fine with an off-road course on the hill. All the obstacles, like jumps, would be created from the natural environment in the park and added in phases.

The mountain bike association first pitched the idea in 2013 and it’s ready for council to make a decision. First the plan needs to be reviewed by the community and protective services committee next Thursday.

Council should already know about the proposal. It received a petition last May with the names of 239 people opposing the idea.

But the city is pressing on with the cautious support of River Coun. Riley Brockington, who suggests the city allow the mountain bike course as a pilot project for two years and review it in fall 2018.

Brockington, who has provided written comments in a report to the committee, says the Carlington community needs outdoor activities and the mountain bike park “could be a good fit.” At the same time, he has heard concerns about extra traffic, noise and conflicts with people who already enjoy the hill.

The Carlington Community Association held a vote for its members and 70 per cent of those who attended an annual general meeting indicated support for the mountain bike park.

Cameron Ketchum, president of the community association, said the mountain bike park is attractive because it will be run by a volunteer-driven, grassroots club. Opponents have valid concerns but most residents believe the course will be positive for the community, he said.

“We thought the proposal that came to us had a lot of strong components,” Ketchum said.

There will likely be little traffic impact since many people will come to the park on their bikes, he said.

According to the city, there would be “limited costs” to taxpayers in allowing the mountain bike course at the park.

City lawyers, who studied the plan for potential legal pitfalls, flag a recent appeal court decisioninvolving Bruce County where the municipality was found at fault in a mountain bike park accident, which resulted in a man becoming quadriplegic. A mountain bike park in Ottawa should follow the same monitoring and promotion standards as skateboard and BMX parks on city land, the lawyers recommend.

Source: Ottawa Citizen, 8 September 2016. Jon Willing