To say that the CMBA is pleased to have the design for the Fish Creek Mountain Bike Skills Park approved is a gross understatement. We are stoked. Quite stoked. Further, we have written confirmation from Alberta Parks that says we can begin work on the Skills Park after ATCO is off the site [they are currently building a pipeline along Bow Bottom Trail SE], which should be sometime in June, assuming no delays occur.

Build Plan

We haven’t shown the Skills Park plan before now because there was a good chance that it would need to change after going through assessment by Risk Management. However, the design was approved as-is, and we can now make it public.

Approved Fish Creek Skills Park Site Plan

Park design by James Norton. Click the picture for the GIANT SIZED version.

The construction will go in phases:

Phase 1: The two pump tracks will be built first. The small one is designed specifically for younger riders, and those who are extremely new to riding this sort of stuff. The second pump track is more intermediate, for those who are a bit more experienced on a bike.

Phase 2: The Skills Loop will be built after construction of the pump tracks has been completed. It features a variety of technical challenges with optional lines on outer [beginner] and inner [intermediate] loops. Designed for progression, building skills here will set riders up for success when they move on to zestier singletrack.

Phase 3: To Be Determined. Once the Skills Park is rolling along, we will work with Alberta Parks to create a new zone in this area.

Construction Timeline

Once ATCO has finished their work in the area, the CMBA will begin moving soil for Phase 1. Hopefully, we can start in June. If all goes well, we should be able to begin work on Phase 2 in July. This timeline is weather dependent, and may be affected by other factors, causing delays.

Next Steps

While we wait for the site to become available, we are working with Alberta Parks on a long-term agreement for maintenance, etc. We’ll post updates as things develop.

Thanks for your patience on what has been a very long journey. There is a light at the end of the tunnel…

  21 Replies to “Approved”

  1. Adam Meeks
    May 12, 2016 at 8:12 PM

    This is great news but I thought there were going to be some jump lines? Is this going to be pump tracks only?

    • David Mills
      May 13, 2016 at 7:25 AM

      Hi Adam,

      Besides the two pump tracks you can see in the design drawing, there’s a ~875m singletrack skills loop. In the NW corner of the site is Phase 3. What happens with Phase 3 depends on how the rest of the skills park goes over the next year or two. It may just be a mound of dirt, or it may turn into something else.

      If everyone treats the skills park and other riders with respect, Phase 3 could get turned into something really fun.

  2. Sasha
    May 12, 2016 at 9:53 PM

    Very excited to hear hear that plans are approved and things will be moving forward now!

    • David Mills
      May 13, 2016 at 7:27 AM

      Yes, it is exciting! We are eagerly awaiting the chance to start digging.

      • Sasha
        May 13, 2016 at 8:57 AM

        Do you still have a good volunteer base? If more volunteers are needed do you post on the website?

        • David Mills
          May 13, 2016 at 9:06 AM

          We will definitely need volunteers for the skills park, primarily for maintaining the pump tracks and skills loop. We can’t do anything until ATCO moves off the site, but we will definitely be putting out the word via the website, Facebook and Twitter once the time comes.

  3. Devon
    May 13, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    Congrats on the effort so far to have this approved, looks like an excellent facility to be introduced for the novice & intermediate cycling community. As an expert rider, it is disappointing to hear that we will have to wait additional time to possibly see a expert jump line and other terrain. Is there anything that riders can do to speed this up? Who is building the jumps, are volunteers required?

    • David Mills
      May 13, 2016 at 9:14 AM

      I agree, the current plan doesn’t provide much for the expert rider. As I mentioned to Adam Meeks, Phase 3 could be developed into something, but we need to show Alberta Parks that the first two phases work well and that riders will respect the skills park and each other.

      Shifting soil around will be handled by experienced machine operators, and we will need experienced volunteers to help keep the pump tracks in good shape. There aren’t any jumps, so lips won’t need to be shaped and protected, but there will still be lots to do.

      • Tanya
        May 14, 2016 at 5:34 PM

        Hi David, It is great that there is a place to go for intermediate and beginner riders. But I agree with Devon and Adam. It is very disappointing that there is no approved plan for some jumps. I am unsure why Alberta Parks has misgivings about having a jump section. Is it because they think teenagers and young men will be the main users? We ride in Fernie the whole summer and spend a good chunk of that time at the dirt park. The majority of users are families. And the area in the park with the most use is the jump area. I have never seen a single instance of any disrespectful behaviour. On the contrary, the young teens coming there are encouraging and friendly (even to a 40 yr old mom trying to keep up to her kids on the jumps). Likewise with the dirt jumps in Chestermere. Not only are the young people encouraging and respectful, they are also the majority of the volunteers putting in hours maintaining the dirt park.

        The problem with only developing a beginner/intermediate pump track and skills section is that it is not going to attract a large number of people, which will give the impression that there isn’t a large market or need for developing any more of the park. We ride in Fernie the whole summer and spend a good chunk of that time at the dirt park. And while the pump track and skills section get some use, the area with the most use is the jumps. I know I am not going to drive all the way down to this new facility if there are no jumps to play around on. I suspect it is the same for many riders. It will be great for families with young kids in the area, but without at least a beginner and intermediate jump line, it will not attract many riders from around the city. Which, if Alberta Parks is taking a “wait and see” attitude with approving the jump area, is going to give the impression that there is not a need for more development.

        I also find the attitude that park riders will be disrespectful of the park and each other patronizing and prejudiced. If holding off on the jumps were a matter of money or manpower, I could understand. But holding off on approving a jump area until riders prove they can conduct themselves properly is somewhat insulting and condescending. Perhaps the people at Alberta Parks need to visit a jump park before assuming that the jumps will attract disrespectful people. I am happy that there will be one more place to ride, but very disappointed in the attitude of Alberta Parks, and that my kids and I will still have to drive out to Chestermere to find some jumps.

        I respect the amount of effort it has taken to get this developed to the current level but wonder why it has been such a struggle. There are countless communities in our province and country who know the value in having facilities that allow people of all ages to be more active. Calgary could easily look to how these communities have planned, built, and maintained parks successfully. It is shameful that a city of our size has one skate park and no jump park when much smaller neighbours like Canmore and Chestermere can manage to successfully build these facilities that bring so much to their communities.

        • David Mills
          May 16, 2016 at 12:31 PM

          Hi Tanya,

          You have encapsulated much of the discussion the CMBA has had with various levels of government over the last 15 years or so. It’s frustrating, to say the least. Actually, frustrating doesn’t begin to describe things…

          If anyone wants to have a sit-down chat about this stuff, and why the CMBA has taken the approach it has, get in touch with us: We’re always on the hunt for fresh ideas on how to move forward [Adam, Devon, Tanya – I’m looking at you].

          • Tanya
            May 25, 2016 at 8:39 AM

            Hi David,

            I did write a letter to Alberta Parks and received a stock “answer.” I also wrote to the mayor’s office regarding this and also the lack of skate parks in this city. I would encourage all bikers to do the same. The more voices heard, the better.

            I’m not sure how to change people’s perceptions of bikers. Maybe a video montage of all the positive interactions at the jump area of other dirt parks. Or get in contact with other cities/towns and see if they could vouch for the positive impact of their dirt parks?

            I heard some guy on CBC talking about dealing with bureaucracy: Just don’t expect common sense, or you will be incredibly frustrated…

          • David Mills
            May 26, 2016 at 4:49 PM

            As far as the City goes, I’ve been told that calling 311 [or use the website or app] is THE best way to make our voices heard. Each call/click counts and is tracked. There’s even a guy collecting and analyzing all the replies.

            The skate park situation is slowly improving; CASE has successfully lobbied for 7 skate parks in addition to Millennium, and those should be built by some time in 2017 I think. 3 are finished already IIRC.

            Jumps represent perceived risk more than anything else. We can partially change that perception by not building gaps in jump lines. It might not seem like a big deal if you spend a lot of time riding jumps, but they look really scary to most people…

          • Tanya
            May 29, 2016 at 8:41 PM

            Good to know. I will definitely call 311 as well. Thanks!
            Also, I am definitely in the “most people” category. Gap jumps look scary to me too 🙂 I stick to the table tops! But I know one issue with table tops is that younger kids tend to roll them and wreck the lip of the jump, so it is nice to have the gap jumps so that there is an area that doesn’t have that issue. But yes, as far as perceived risk goes, gap jumps are scary looking.

  4. W
    May 17, 2016 at 11:03 PM

    Man i was super stoked for there to be a a jump section, kinda sad about that XD oh well, ill just go fuck about on the bow river jumps for now lol

  5. William
    June 21, 2016 at 12:48 PM

    For phase 3 you should put in jumps and drops to practice on. I have a DH bike so people like myself to have to either go to the mountains to to COP skills park to practice jumps and drops.

    • David Mills
      June 22, 2016 at 5:13 PM

      It’s on the list!

  6. Darryl
    June 21, 2016 at 5:14 PM

    Curious if there’s any update on this? I’ve been by the site and there’s lots of piles of dirt but no signs or work going on.
    Checked out the bike park in Chestermere over the weekend and it was great fun. Looking forward to having a closer one here in Calgary.

    • David Mills
      June 22, 2016 at 5:16 PM

      I met with ATCO and the Park’s maintenance lead this afternoon, and things should get going shortly. Some topsoil needs to be moved, but that looks to be the last hurdle…

      • Darryl
        June 23, 2016 at 5:05 PM

        That’s great! Thanks for the update David.

      • Sasha
        July 14, 2016 at 11:01 PM

        Hi David, just wondering if there’s been any new progress with the bike park?

        • David Mills
          July 16, 2016 at 11:03 AM

          It’s been two steps forward and one step back lately. Things are still moving forward, but there were a couple of hiccups that needed to be dealt with. We should find out if we’ve cleared the additional hurdles on Monday.

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