After nearly three years of growing dust and sitting idle, the Juan de Fuca velodrome could be open to track cyclists within a month.
Insurance underwriters for West Shore Parks and Recreation and the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association have set out a series of conditions that would allow cyclists on the track, while protecting parks and rec from legal liability.
The proposal needs the approval of the WSPR board of directors, scheduled to meet next Thursday (May 19). If given the green light, parks staff would install a permanent chain-link fence across the velodrome entryway, glue down portions of frayed infield turf, power wash the track and remove the wooden boards.
“I’m really excited to get this open again,” said Moralea Milne, a WSPR director and Metchosin councillor. “Cycling is a big thing these days, especially with Ryder (Hesjedal) doing so well. I think this is a really good thing.”
Costs to prep the track are estimated at $10,000 to $12,000, and would be covered by the GVVA. Under conditions of the insurers, only registered GVVA members, covered by Cycling BC insurance, would be allowed to ride the velodrome and set foot on portions of the infield.
GVVA president Chris Anstey, who has vigorously lobbied for the track to reopen for more than two years, said his organization should have no problem footing the bill. “We have 99 per cent in the bank today,” he said.
After offering a number of quashed plans to bring the track back to life, he remains cautious about predicting how the WSPR board will react. “We’ll see what happens Thursday,” Anstey offered.
The velodrome, used for the 1994 Commonwealth Games, was abruptly fenced off in August 2008 after Aon Risk Control Services reported the aging and damaged infield carpet was a serious legal liability. Installing modern turf was estimated at $800,000.
Many board directors saw little reason to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars repairing what they called an irregular sized field within a 333-metre velodrome that no longer met the norms of track cycling.
But cyclists across the region and Metchosin council advocated loudly, often sparking furious debates at the board table, to find a solution for the velodrome without breaking the bank. In March, the WSPR board struck the velodrome subcommittee on the prompting of Milne and fellow Metchosin councillor Jo Mitchell, with the sole task of getting cyclists back on the track.
On Monday, Milne said the subcommittee – with representatives from View Royal, Colwood, Langford, Highlands and Metchosin – unanimously supported the plan that would give a one year lease to the GVVA.
“It took some time. Some directors were very cautious about liability for West Shore parks and for the directors,” Milne said, referring to the fear by some directors that they could be held personally liable if the Aon Risk Assessment report was ignored. “(Administrator) Linda Barnes and her staff worked so hard on this to make this happen.”
If the board gives the go-ahead, WSPR facilities manager Wade Davies said it would take about two weeks to prep the site, including power washing the track surface and gluing down portions of lifted carpet.
“We just need to make the (WSPR) insurance company satisfied so potential liability is minimized,” Milne said. “There is always some risk, you can’t live with no liability, but we’ve done our due diligence.”