June 7, 2008 (Victoria, BC) – Recent articles in the Victoria Times Colonist review the situation regarding the Juan de Fuca Velodrome in Victoria , B.C. that is threatened with imminent demolition (read the May 27 article here). The Commonwealth Games Velodrome Legacy Committee chaired by Dr. Wayne Walker is now mobilized to preserve and protect this legacy track which was gifted to the Western communities region of Victoria by the B.C. taxpayers for the use of recreational and elite cyclists from across the country following the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games. Here’s his response to today’s article in the Colonist by Bill Cleverley.
I was dismayed at the misinformation being propagated by the Mayors of the West shore communities quoted in your article this morning regarding the Juan de Fuca Velodrome. They obviously have their own agenda and are uninterested in a true discussion of the matter, since the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association, the group given the track legacy, was never informed, consulted or allowed to address the matter until our former president made his presentation to Metchosin Council. When Metchosin council heard both sides of the discussion they logically decided to save the velodrome. The text of the GVVA presentation is included below and has much of the factual information that the politicians and WSPRS board have ignored. First, they allude to the velodrome as being in disrepair. “it is in constant need of maintenance and upgrades”. They have no facts to back these statements.
The GVVA has had an engineering opinion that the velodrome track is sound and has decades of use before any major maintenance is needed, and none had been done to date. The sole maintenance required on an ongoing basis for the track is to have one corner powerwashed in the spring and to have one or two 5 cm. lines painted on the surface every few years. The GVVA is willing to take on those costs if the WSPRS cannot afford them. Second, they state that the number of cyclists using the track is low and that it is unsuited for high level competition.
The GVVA has track racing three nights weekly, learn to race programs Sunday afternoons twice monthly, and about 50 member cyclists. The Victoria Cycling League, the major road racing group on the island, races on the track as part of their yearly schedule monthly, and Pacific Sport cyclists and triathletes train on the track regularly. As well, the Naden base forces, local triathlon groups (including the elementary school triathletes) and schools utilize the track as a safe, flat course for motorpacing, learning to race and riding as recreational sport. The velodrome has been used for international racing, at the 1998 World Cup, and it is true that without a tunnel to the infield we will not have such events again. However, the track was specifically designed to be for general use, not strictly high performance use, and anyone can be taught to ride safely in a short time. In this regard we have many recreational users of the velodrome as it is a safe place to ride, train or rehabilitate, it is indeed a great community asset.
Racers do use the velodrome regularly, as I said, we have racing Mondays and Thursday nights, open track training and learn to ride Friday nights, as well as the Provincial Track Cycling Championships annually ( in two weeks’ time, June 20-22, and we expect over 60 elite competitors as well as a category for beginners to come and race for glory alone).
We also have a monthly weekend of racing each July and August, Trackfests, to prepare our cyclists for the national championships. In other articles the politicians have eluded to “liability issues”. When pressed on this matter all that we have heard is that there have been two incidents of spectators of infield sports events that have slipped and fallen. This has no bearing at all on this issue and should not have been raised.
The GVVA has asked me to chair a subcommittee, the Commonwealth Games Velodrome Legacy committee to deal with this matter. In this regard we have sent submissions to the various councils involved, and are offering to present to View Royal before they vote on the issue.
We have serious concerns that not only has there been no consultation or transparency in this process, but that the legacy aspect of this jewel of a facility, that was paid for by the taxpayers of the Province of B.C., is being neglected by short sighted, provincial local politicians with their own agendas. The WSPRB has in its mission statement the purpose of providing diverse and accessible recreation opportunities, and destroying the only velodrome of its kind in the province to replace it with a soccer field is acting in contrary to their own purpose. As Mayor John Ranns of Metchosin stated, the West Shore councils have “a regional obligation to keep”. That obligation is to preserve this legacy facility that requires minimal maintenance cost and was gifted to the people not only of the West Shore but of B.C. and Canada.
Mayor Jody Twa’s statement that the number of cyclists using the facility from the West Shore is low and that this assumption (which is incorrect ) somehow justifies destroying the track shows such enormous disregard for the facility as a National Cycling center asset and a legacy to all British Columbians that it is truly appalling.
Finally, part of our obligation to safeguard this legacy facility is to explore legal options for its protection and in this regard we will commence legal action in due course. Thank you for considering our side of this discussion.
Dr. Wayne Walker
Chairman, Commonwealth Games
Velodrome Legacy Committee
Sponsor, Dr. Walker Sports Chiropractor
Track Cycling Team, since 1995