BMX gets $50,000 grant for new track

“When you bring something that size, it kind of puts St. Albert on the map.”

The St. Albert BMX Association and its president Mike Hook hope to bring national BMX events to the city by building an Olympic-caliber supercross track in Riel Park.

The association has designed a supercross track that, if all goes as planned, will replace the current St. Albert course. Hook said the new track “would be the only functioning, publicly accessible eight-meter track in Canada.” In the world of BMX racing, an eight meter starting hill is the size specified for professional racing.

“When all of a sudden you can do national events of all kinds…it really changes the dynamic of this city,” Hook said in an interview.

“Basically, riders like Molly Simpson from Red Deer who just got her first podium on the World Cup circuit, she’s in a situation where if she’s going to continue training at that level, she has to find a place to train in Abbotsford, BC, or go to [United States]”, said Hook.

The new track will not be limited to professional racers only as the design also includes a five meter start hill. The current start ramp for the St. Albert track is “sort of between five and eight yards,” Hook said.

The plan for a world-class race track in St. Albert is receiving assistance from the City of St. Albert’s Community Capital Program grant, with the council approving $50,000 for the club on May 16.

Hook said the estimated cost for the new runway is between $1.2 million and $1.3 million.

The BMX Association originally requested a $187,701 grant from the City, but on May 9, council’s standing community life committee moved to recommend that council limit the grant to $50,000.

“I’m not going to lie, it was a little disappointing,” Hook said. “The grants committee is really focused on community engagement, and that’s 100% understandable, but when it comes to regional impact and broader impact, they really weren’t interested in hearing anything. it would be.

“It’s a type of funding that’s just locally based, and I think that’s a little disappointing,” Hook said.

In a statement emailed to The Gazette, Mayor Cathy Heron said, “With every grant application, we have many worthy groups applying for funding; the reality is that there are only so many dollars to spend.

“Although the $50,000 recommended is less than the $175,000 requested, this would be one of the largest grants to be awarded. We know the BMX Company will put this funding to good use for their project.”

The BMX Association is also applying for the provincial government‘s community facility improvement grant program. According to the Government of Alberta website, this program provided 1,313 grants in the 2021/2022 fiscal year, with total funding of approximately $52 million.

Hook is also a board member of the Alberta BMX Supercross Association, and he said “the total mandate of the association is to fundraise and build.”

Although a construction start date has not been determined, “we are fortunate that Stony Plain BMX and Edmonton BMX [have] offered to take all of our members during this time free of charge, for nothing, so we could just start riding somewhere else,” Hook said.

“When you have the ability to run small, tiny walker races on your track and you can bring in the pro circuit with an average of 3,500 riders for a World Cup event, that’s a big deal,” Hook said.

“That would really be something.”

Gymnastics Club also receives a grant

The St. Albert Gymnastics Club also applied for the City’s Community Capital Grant, and on May 16, City Council approved the full $50,594 requested by the club.

The club’s executive director, Zoe Spaans, said in an interview that replacements and equipment upgrades were slow in coming.

“Our organization has been in business for almost 50 years, and I would say a lot of that equipment is from when we first started,” she said.

Spaans said the club “is considering replacing our flooring, we are looking to get new bars above our pit, we are looking to get foam cube covers, a new vault track, lots of custom padding and to upgrade our upholstery to today’s standards.”

The gymnastics club needs $151,782 to make necessary upgrades, Spaans said. The club have also applied for the Community Facilities Improvement Grant from the provincial government, but Spaans is unsure when the government will make a decision. Spaans said the remaining fundraiser “will come from a casino that we have been granted for June of this year.”

“I hope it will revitalize the whole interior of our club,” she said.

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