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‘All-wheel park’ welcomed by advocate

In September, Martin Simard made a pitch to city council to build a pump track in North Bay.

After numerous conversations with council and staff in the following months, Simard’s September wish appears to have been granted.

The city’s proposed capital budget will include over $1-million over the next two years for the design and construction of an all-wheel facility which will include a skatepark and pump track. 

This is much more than what Simard outlined in his initial pitch which called for $300,000 to just build a pump track. 

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“My ultimate idea from the start of it was to build up the culture with a pump track and then get the skate park going,” he said.

Simard and his son, Malleus got their first taste of a pump track last summer, with the six-year-old joining a BMX race circuit this year. Simard believes that other kids in the community will be able to benefit from the facility the same way his son did. 

“It’s what makes the most sense. This is a COVID project. Summer sports aren’t happening and next summer will probably be limited so this is a free outdoor space that we desperately need and this is the perfect time to install it,” he explained.

Just over $480,000 is being allotted for the design and planning of the facility in 2021, with the 2022 construction costs tallying over $672,000. 

Two road projects (both on Metcalfe St.)  were deferred to 2025, freeing up $1.2 million which has been reallocated for the all-wheel park. 

Within the 2022 forecasted budget is $100,000 that will be raised through third-party user groups. Simard will be at the forefront of that community fundraising effort, saying he has already given proposals to local fundraising groups. 

“I’m sure people will be knocking on the doors to get in on this,” Simard commented. 

When the updated capital budget was presented to councillors on Wednesday, councillor Marcus Tignanelli wondered if the project could be pushed back two years to alleviate the city’s spending in 2021, citing it could reduce the tax levy. 

Margaret Karpenko, the city’s chief financial officer, explained the all-wheel facility will be a debenture project, meaning it won’t count against the tax levy. 

Also included in the 2021 budget is $17-milllion to begin construction on the proposed community centre and $300,000 for the construction of a multi-use basketball court.

For Simard though, he’s certain that the all-wheel facility will be welcomed by the people of North Bay. 

“I think it’s going to be great for the community, great for tourism, great for people’s mental health to have something to do in the summer,” he noted. 

The final approval of the 2021 budget will be voted on by council on December 8.

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