What trails are they referring to? RBG trails? Bruce Trail? Neither of which are open for cycling, being footpaths in naturally sensitive areas? Or do they consider Dundas Valley trails close? How well thought out is this plan?
Cycling centre rejects harbour
John Kernaghan, The Hamilton Spectator, (May 13, 2010)
Hamilton's cycling centre has joined the Tiger-Cats in rejecting the west harbour. But unlike the Ticats, the centre has firmly identified another Pan Am Games location.
Andrew Iler, president of the National Cycling Centre Hamilton (NCCH), said almost four years of study have led the centre's board to conclude Olympic Park in Dundas would provide the best chance for the cycling track to be sustainable in the long term.
"We've invested substantial human and financial capital and called on experts to develop a business plan for a successful velodrome for Hamilton," Iler said.
That plan does not fit the west harbour site due to accessibility issues, a long-term position of the NCCH, he noted.
"West harbour met very few of our criteria set out after an exhaustive study."
The cycling centre head said he felt it was important to take his group's reservations public.
"We've worked hard with the city and Pan Am (organizers) to collaborate on a facility. We've put our points forward and they haven't been heard."
Iler said there was some consideration of other sites by the city but only west harbour is on the table.
However, its board feels shifting the proposed velodrome may open up parking options to help the Ticats and the city get closer to a resolution at the Bay and Barton streets site.
He added, "The NCCH feels that by locating the velodrome in an alternative location that the issue of adequate parking for the stadium can be resolved."
The proposal comes as the city headed to a mediation process with the Ticats.
The football team's owner, Bob Young, has cited accessibility, visibility and parking problems as reasons for his rejection of the west harbour location.
The 2.4 hectares the velodrome would occupy could produce between 600 and 750 parking spots.
Only 600 spots are in the city's plans for the area.
"We're looking at a holistic plan for Hamilton's part in the Pan Ams," Iler pointed out.
The city's Pan Am spokesperson, David Adames, said the city and the Tiger-Cats have agreed not to comment on the stadium issue as they approach mediation.
Tiger-Cats president Scott Mitchell also declined to comment.
Iler stressed Olympic Park, playing fields across from an ice rink on Olympic Drive off Cootes Drive, is owned by the city and is not complicated by buildings or regulatory restrictions.
The NCCH believes the Dundas site would best serve three of the four cycling disciplines as it is close to road cycling routes and mountain biking trails.
That would intensify use of the velodrome by elite and recreational riders, would be safer to access for cyclists and provide a business model that could spare the city long-term subsidies, Iler said.
The Games budget for the cycling venue is $11.4 million, which would provide a stripped-down facility.
The cycling centre has been campaigning for more public and private sector funds to create a more substantial velodrome.