Chris Anstey (front) is all smiles after the West Shore parks and rec board OK'd a plan to get cyclists back on the track. The velodrome and its infield have been closed since August 2008.

JDF velodrome to reopen for summer

It may take two or three weeks to prep the track, but Victoria track cyclists will have at least one season of racing and training on the Juan de Fuca velodrome.

To the rowdy applause of dozens of cyclists who packed Thursday’s meeting, the West Shore Parks and Recreation board of directors passed a plan that would give the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association sole access to the site, once a series of repair conditions are met.

The facility was closed 2-1/2 years ago after a insurance risk report declared the torn infield a legal liability. Under the agreement with track cyclists, only members of the GVVA, cover by Cycling BC insurance, will be allowed to ride the track and use the infield as a staging area.

“A lot of people are very interested in getting back on the track,” GVVA president Chris Anstey said to the board. “The terms and conditions seem very fair and I applaud all for their hard work.”

Anstey already has events lined up for the racing season. Cycling BC has agreed to host the provincial track cycling championships at the JDF velodrome over the Labour Day weekend in September. August will see “Friday night lights” racing with cash prize purses, along with a national training camp.

“We’re putting a schedule together. We’ll definitely be here Monday, Thursday, Friday,” Anstey said. “I’m looking to build our membership to 500 riders. We’ll ride every night with that.”

Before rubber hits the pavement, torn and frayed pieces of infield carpet will need gluing down, the track surface power washed, boards removed and permanent fencing installed for controlled access. Repair work to satisfy the liability insurers for WSPR and Cycling BC is estimated at $10,000 to $12,000 and must be covered by the GVVA.

The plan passed with with little resistance from board members, although some questioned how the WSPR would be guaranteed the cyclists would pony up the money.

“All requirements have to be fulfilled up front before they get access,” noted board chair Les Bjola. “There won’t be any ongoing expenditures (for WSPR).”

Anstey said he would “personally guarantee” to pay what was necessary to get the track reopened.

WSPR adminstrator Linda Barnes stressed to board members the deal is for a single season of racing — the ultimate future of the velodrome site would be determined with the long-term capital plan.

“I’m all for opening it just to put this to rest,” remarked director Mike Hicks. “I say put (the track) to use or tear it down. But this isn’t the end of it. We’ve got the field in there that is a public facility.”

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