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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Letter to the Editor re: Velodrome

The Times Colonist published my letter to the editor today, you can check it out here:


It's been pretty heavily edited, below is the original of what i submitted, for your reading pleasure:
Dear Editor,

It’s been two years since Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders, Les Bjola and the rest of the West Shore Parks and Recreation Society (WSPRS) Society locked the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association (GVVA) and all other users out of the velodrome.

Much to the surprise of many, yes, the velodrome still sits there, idle. It’s fenced in, but is just as usable as it was two years ago, before the WSPRS’s failed bid to fill it in and build a new soccer stadium. It’s an undeniable fact that this facility remains one of the best velodromes in all of North America - even after two years of complete neglect.

Instead of allowing user groups to return, WSPRS maintains their commissioned ‘safety report’ as a reason for the track to remain closed. In doing so, WSPRS loses income opportunities from multiple groups that would utilize it, preventing numerous local groups from benefiting from this Commonwealth legacy. Not only do velodrome enthusiasts use it for training and racing, but several other cycling and triathlon clubs also used it. Youth cycling, including elementary and high school programs would also visit the track. Why? Because the velodrome is the safest place to ride a bicycle on Vancouver Island, and coaches can keep an eye on people at ALL times. It’s ideal for many cycling uses, including parents who’d bring their kids to learn to ride a bike.

Income is also being denied to the Juan de Fuca Recreation Center, as none of these groups are contributing any longer, and instead WSPRS goes further into the red in payment for the temporary fencing. How does this make any sense when the Center is already so short of cash?

The safety report itself is specious at best. One example claims the movable goal posts a hazard. (Yes, the operative word is movable, and a two foot push is all anyone had to do to negate this ‘concern’.) The GVVA has offered to fulfill and address every single concern, including spending money to patch the worn infield, which isn’t even used by the velodrome users. (Might I add that the WSPRS has neglected the artificial surface for years, and was to have put aside money for this inevitability, yet now expects the GVVA to pay for it if we are to access the velodrome ever again. How is that ultimatum in any way fair?)

Mayor Saunders and the WSPRS have been petty and small-minded in these affairs, and it is their neglect and failed interests that denies Victoria’s cycling community fair use of an important and desired facility.

Victoria pro-cyclist Ryder Hesjedal had an amazing Tour de France, and has on numerous times spoken in favor of our velodrome, and its special place in our community. Even his concerns seem unconvincing, and fall on deaf ears as well. (I wonder how would WSPRS respond of Ryder asked to train on the velodrome?)

We’ve heard enough excuses; if Saunders really wants to prove his support for cycling, it’s time he worked with the GVVA and developed a plan to allow users to return, and post haste. We could have a couple months of usage this year, if he would simply relent and try working with us instead of against us. And it would involve little more from the WSPRS than handing over a key.

Dave Shishkoff
Director of Racing & Events
Greater Victoria Velodrome Association

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    Dave Shishkoff
    aka Dave Noisy
    Victoria, BC

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