Among the Friends of Munson Mountain are Hilma Labelle

Among the Friends of Munson Mountain are Hilma Labelle

Concerns roll in on Penticton BMX track

The Friends of Munson Mountain would like to see a new BMX park developed somewhere other than the currently proposed site.

The Friends of Munson Mountain would like to see a new BMX park developed somewhere other than the currently proposed site.

The city owns 10 acres of land on 630 Munson Mountain Rd. – right near the entrance to the Munson Mountain parking lot, and is considering the allocation of two to three acres for Penticton BMX to develop a bike park.

“I don’t think this is the place for a BMX park,” said Lauren Calancie, a Friend of Munson Mountain who lives near the site.

The organization formed about two weeks ago as a way to increase the public’s awareness of the possible development.

The Friends said that as a BMX park, the space will only cater to a small portion of Penticton’s population, and they would like to see a development which will incorporate the entire community.

While they have a different vision for the site, the group’s dismay isn’t focused towards Penticton BMX.

“The city handed them this gem,” Calancie said. “They’re understandably happy.”

The Friends are not opposed to exploring development options on the site, but they feel as though the BMX park was pushed forward with an aggressive timeline.

“This project is steamrolling full force ahead,” reads a press release from the Friends of Munson Mountain. “Should Penticton’s rare treasure – the Munson Mountain property – be hastily given over to a small, special interest group? Friends of Munson Mountain believe that this area should be developed carefully and thoughtfully, with the needs of the whole Penticton community in mind.”

But before city council will have the ability to hold a public hearing and decide whether or not to allow the BMX park, the Agricultural Land Commission must first approve proper usage for site.

Coun. Tarik Sayeed, who recently toured the Munson Mountain property, expects the file to come back to council in one or two months.

“I think that the pace we are at is fine,” he said. “We don’t even know when we’re going to find out what the decision is.”

Margaret Holm, a Friend of Munson Mountain, said that instead of waiting to hear from the Agricultural Land Commission, she would rather see council place a year-long moratorium on the project; using the time to gauge the desires of all possible user groups in town.

Coun. Sayeed said that whether it’s a BMX park or another community feature, his main priority is on the site’s long-term plans, as an extension to an adjacent cemetery will be important in the years to come.

“The flexibility needs to be there over several decades, so that we can convert it back to cemetery,” he said. “The last thing I want to see 40 years from now is not having any land for that.”

Friend of Munson Mountain Sally Kilburg said there’s great potential in developing the site to be multi-use park, but that moving the top layer of soil on site for a bike park would add significant dust to the nearby environment, which will not be good for nearby farmers.

“It’ll be inviting all these unsupervised kids,” Kilburg said, adding that it could be a challenge to contain them to the designated space. And because of it’s far proximity from town, Kilburg said the need for automotive transportation will increase the carbon footprint of the users.

Instead of building the park at Munson Mountain, the Friends suggested Penticton BMX instead converts McLaren Park Arena into an indoor park, or perhaps the empty lot near Okanagan College.

Andrew Bayston, president of Penticton BMX, could not be reached for comment before press deadline.