© Austin M. Davis
Jay Hoots (left) and Cpl. Taylor Mickleborough share a laugh during the first public input session on Tuesday at the site of the future bike skills park next to the YaraCentre.
Public input gave Hoots a place to start with bike skills park
Never has a group of men standing in a Moose Jaw parking lot accomplished so much.
“With this particular project, my best step is remembering that it’s not my park, it’s Moose Jaw’s park and it’s the riders’ park,” said Jay Hoots, owner of Hoots Inc.
Hoots is a professional bike skills park and trail designer from Vancouver. He’s in charge of creating the park on the land just west of the YaraCentre.
On Tuesday, Hoots and interested parties from in and around the community gathered at the end of the parking lot and brainstormed. The group then moved through the site talking about what features they would like to see and where.
“These guys had some experience and some history in the area, so it was really cool to hear feedback from them,” Hoots said.
He said even though those voices came from an experienced riding perspective, the group was able to “gear down” and talk about the community’s needs.
A lot of the early discussion was about progressive jumps and maintenance.
Hoots uses factors like environment, drainage and the space’s capacity to create a design.
“I think there’s a lot of fear,” Hoots said, of how he feels about the task of combining location logistics, costs and community-generated ideas.
“It’s a really amazing opportunity to shape the land and to create something that everybody’s going to be able to use.”
Hoots said he didn’t have much knowledge about the Saskatchewan bike riding community, but he’s been very impressed by its size, passion and clear thinking.
Hoots compared how he felt about designing the park to surfing: he has paddled out on his board into the water, the waves are coming in and he has to pick one to ride.
“I feel very much that this is a pre-wave to something big,” Hoots said. “Everybody here is OK and comfortable with the idea of maybe not having super gnarly, crazy stuff that’s terribly built, but having really fun and flow-y good stuff that’s well and sustainably built.”
Hoots said he had been in discussions with Cpl. Taylor Mickleborough, president of the Moose Jaw Police Association about the park design.
“So now, my job is just to take everybody’s feedback, Taylor’s vision and somehow turn that into a reality with a volunteer budget,” Hoots said.
Mickleborough had been to Fernie and saw a park Hoots designed. He suggested a lot of the features could be imported into the park in Moose Jaw. None of the community members knew about this before Tuesday’s meeting, but Hoots said the organically generated ideas were very similar to Mickleborough’s initial concept.
Though Mickleborough is a rider, he wants the park to represent the entire community’s desires.
“We want to ensure that this project is well-represented and interests everyone,” Mickleborough said.
After Hoots is finished the conceptual design, he’ll send it to the police association and a public input session will be held sometime this fall.
“I’m beyond excited,” Mickleborough said. “It’s been a long process. Our association has been so excited about this project, but it’s been a long road trying to get it off the ground.”
Mickleborough said having Hoots taking a look at the site reminded him how positive of a project this will be for Moose Jaw — and Saskatchewan.
If the development goes ahead on schedule, Moose Jaw will have Saskatchewan’s first bike skills park open in the spring of 2014.
Mickleborough will know he’s not dreaming when he sees Brent Evans of Evans Excavating break ground and start making the Moose Jaw bike skills park a reality.
Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX.