BMX track proposal could include farming

Students from UBC Okanagan are creating a plan that may satisfy those opposed and in support of the track on Munson Mountain.

A group of students from UBC Okanagan are working on a plan they think might satisfy both opponents and supporters of creating a new BMX track on city-owned land near Munson Mountain.

They say it will help spur Penticton’s economy at the same time. Kimberly Ouwor, Nicky Sellinger, Anton Urtan, Kelsey Branchflower and Mitchell Cockburn are management students at UBC-O working on a class-based research project under the supervision of Dr. Eric Li, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Management, on promoting healthy living.

The group is working to create a marketing plan combining two uses for the Munson Mountain property: the BMX track and food forestry.

Food forestry, according to Ouwor, is a new way of urban farming. In this case that means creating community gardens that the entire community can work on and have access to.

That ties in with Penticton BMX by creating a collaboration between food forestry and BMX, putting healthy living at the core of both uses for the Munson Mountain lands.

“You have your physical activity and you would have your healthy food as well,” said Ouwor.

The road to creating a new BMX race track at Munson Mountain is a long and, you might say, rocky one. Opponents have suggested the land is too valuable for agricultural uses to be given over to the dirt racing track, while proponents have suggested that only a portion of the property is arable, and the track wouldn’t prevent the land to being returned to agriculture in the future.

At present, the proposed use of the land for a BMX track is before the Agricultural Land Commission. Len Robson, manager of public works, said that there is no telling how long it may take to get a decision.

“It’s in their process. It kind of goes out of our control as soon as we submit it,” said Robson. “They can take up to whatever time they need.”

Sellinger said they hope their marketing plan can help bring both sides of the BMX issue together.

“We have quite a vision for even five to 10 years down the road. We hope to improve the economy of Penticton as a whole,” said Sellinger, adding that implementing the new race track could make Penticton a destination for BMX athletes.

That, she said, could bring huge revenues sources to Penticton, and also emphasize Penticton as a tourist community and the importance of healthy living through both physical activity and healthy, locally grown foods.

“What we are looking to present to the community is really the positive benefits of this collaboration,” said Ouwor. “We want to show that Penticton BMX being there won’t be a negative impact on the community as far as the land being used for a non-agricultural use, because there will be a collaboration with food forestry. There would be gardening involved so there would be that agricultural use of the land.”

Dr. Eric Li said this group is one of 30 working on concepts for marketing healthy living ideas. Almost 200 students are involved, he said, working on projects throughout the Okanagan and Similkameen, including working with food banks, Parkway Elementary on a food garden and in Keremeos on health promotion.

“While we directed in the area of food forestry, we had a couple of different facets to choose from and that is why we leaned more towards BMX, because it is that healthy living lifestyle that we felt most passionate about,” said Sellinger.