Penticton council gives thumbs up to BMX track

After a 2.5-hour public hearing, Penticton city council voted to rezone a piece of land to make way for a new BMX track.

Andrew Bayston, president of the Penticton BMX Club

Andrew Bayston, president of the Penticton BMX Club

It didn’t come easily, but Penticton BMX got the approval they needed at city council Monday.

After a public hearing lasting 2.5 hours, council voted 4-1 in favour of re-zoning a property near Munson Mountain to parkland, allowing the BMX club to build a new track.

The motion was supported by Couns. Tarik Sayeed, Helena Konanz, Judy Sentes and Andre Martin and opposed by Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. Couns. Campbell Watt and Max Picton were absent.

Opponents raised a variety of concerns: light pollution, noise, fearing children riding on the roads and even the effect of chemical spraying on nearby agricultural properties. Sally Kilburg, a local realtor and environmentalist, said she was concerned about the loss of agricultural land, and suggested that was the best use for the site at the base of the mountain, and also is harmonious with the wine industry in the area.

“I would urge we maintain the quiet rural character and natural use of this property,” said Kilburg. If the land has to become a park, she continued, a nature reserve would be a better use.

“This park is best kept and preserved for a broader sector of the population, not just this small sector,” she said.

Andrew Bayston, president of the BMX club, acknowledged that the spraying of farm chemicals should be looked at, but explained that other concerns raised were not justified.

With specialized bikes and an assortment of gear, Bayston said it was unlikely that any children would be riding to the site. Nor would the track be using artificial lighting, since the club finishes up by 8 p.m. on their practice and race nights. The club does have a small PA system, he said, but the only other noise would be generated by the participants.

“The sound of children’s laughter for 2.5 hours twice a week, if that is noise pollution, we have a bigger challenge,” said Bayston.

Jakubeit said part of his opposition was due to an offer to buy the land that the city had received earlier in the day.

“We have had a written offer as of late afternoon. It helps to complicate our deliberations here,” said Jakubeit. He felt council should delay their decision in order to consider the offer to purchase, but added he also didn’t want to stall the BMX club’s project.

“I would also rather have a decision that is completely vetted,” said Jakubeit.

Other councillors felt the purchase offer didn’t change anything. Konanz said that building amenities like the BMX track was necessary to draw young families to the community.

“I am not interested in selling that priceless piece of land,” said Konanz. “At least for now, making it into a park with a BMX track is good for the community.”

Coun. Sentes took the opportunity to fire a shot back at members of the gallery charging council wasn’t paying attention to their concerns.

“Something I heard with disturbing repetition tonight is that council is not listening,” said Sentes, adding that she had heard their concerns, but had also heard the other side of arguments about lights, noise and accessibility.

“I also heard from the BMX families,” said Sentes, noting that Bayston and other supporters had been clear in laying concerns about lighting, noise and safety  to rest.

Coun. Martin, who originally had concerns about accessibility, said he now didn’t think that would be an issue. Concerning noise, he suggested that if the land was sold, a winery could be built, with noise continuing into the late evening.

“This is the right place to put it. I feel confident the BMX club is going to take care of it,” said Martin.


Penticton Western News