Cycling, Edmonton | 2 comments
Cycling in Edmonton
By: Gordon Kent
New-velodrome boosters urge fast council decision
EDMONTON — The city should decide soon whether to again recommend putting an indoor velodrome in Argyll Park, because the current facility needs millions of dollars worth of renovations, says the co-chair of the group behind the project.
David Embury of the Argyll Velodrome Association told a council committee Monday his group is willing to make some short-term upgrades so the outdoor site can be used next year, but without major work it will eventually have to close.
“Five years ago, we estimated the track had a life of 10 years. Today, almost five years later, the facility is in need of repair and will not make it to 10 years,” he said. “Without a major upgrade the facility…it will be forced to close.”
The Argyll Velodrome, located in south-central Edmonton, was constructed in 1977 by the City of Edmonton as a primary site for competitive cycling during the 1978 Commonwealth Games.
The velodrome is one of about twenty-five velodrome tracks in North America. In Canada there are eight tracks; Dieppe New Brunswick, University of Laval, Laval Quebec, Bromont Quebec, Calgary Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Burnaby British Columbia, Victoria British Columbia and London, Ontario. Edmonton, Burnaby, Victoria, Calgary and Bromont are sanctioned for some International events.
The Argyll Velodrome is a 333 1/3 meter x 7 meter wide, 33 degree banked concrete surfaced track situated in the beautiful Edmonton river valley Argyll Park. The facility is equal to any equivalent cycling facility in the world.
A new, indoor 250 meter track is planned to replace our existing facility. This multi-million dollar multi-use facility is hoped to be ready to ride by late 2010.
The velodrome put up for the 1978 Commonwealth Games beside the Mill Creek Ravine was closed from 1989 to 1996 when a botched city repair job left the 333-metre track unusable.
A bicycle club finally fixed the structure. The velodrome association wants to build a regulation 250-metre covered track and indoor recreation centre on the site that could be used year-round. That $32-million proposal was approved by city council last year.
The decision was overturned in February by a judge who agreed with the Argyll Community League that councilors hadn’t properly deemed the site essential as required by Edmonton’s river valley bylaw.
City officials are now looking at four potential locations, including the Argyll land. But Embury said one suggested site at Edmiston industrial park near 178th Street won’t work because it’s far from the city centre and has too much competition from nearby fitness and soccer centers.
His volunteer group wants a recommendation in a month on which of the other three properties the city will support.
But community services general manager Linda Cochrane said site assessments won’t be completed until next year.
Many Argyll residents oppose putting the velodrome in the park near them, saying there’s little transit and road access and such a big year-round facility would disrupt their neighborhood.