District parks staff has been removing makeshift ramps and other obstacles from Westview Park on a regular basis for a long time. But now, with the help of students from Westview secondary, they are building a whole BMX course in the park.
“We’ve been tearing out jumps here for years – just because they weren’t built to a proper standard,” said Geoff Mallory, district manager of parks and open spaces.
On Friday, the district held its second work party with Westview students.
Mallory said the workers and kids started with a walk-through of the park, and it was easy to see the potential for a bike circuit.
“You could almost see the track before we started working on it,” he said. “The park spoke to us, and told us how it would be built.”
The teens are deciding specifically what they want to build, designing as they go – with a big jump here, a bank there, and some whoop-de-dos on a flat stretch. And they do the spade work.
A municipal crew was on hand with a small loader and other equipment, moving loads of dirt into place, dropping off logs, and even using a chain saw to carve a large, fallen log into bench seating.
Mallory said involving the kids has been great for the district.
“We want people to be in our parks. We want to legitimize the space.”
Westview secondary vice-principal Tricia McCuaig said the school was interested in seeing more development of the park across the street, which has a kid’s playground in one corner, but was otherwise mostly woods.
Some kids who ride BMX asked about developing the park in a formal way, and once the project got rolling, more joined in.
Dante Tuzzi predicts the park will be popular, and there are a couple of different loops for riders to take.
“I’ve been waiting for a track like this to come for a while,” he said.
Nathaniel Phillips grabbed a shovel and joined the project, even though he is not an avid cyclist.
“I’m just volunteering. I feel like Maple Ridge needs something more to do sometimes, and I think a bike park would be good for us.”
McCuaig was impressed at the efforts of Friday’s work party, which featured about a dozen students.
It was pro-D day – a day off school for them.
“They were here bright and early,” added Mallory. “They’ve been doing some hard work.”
Two afternoons transformed the park. Mallory has already seen cyclists trying out the track, and they will do one more day of building before the end of the school year.
He believes it will take two school years to get the park completely developed.