More than 600 mountain bikers from around the world will descend on Crofton on July 2-6 for the BC Bike Race.
The BC Bike Race is a multi-day mountain biking stage race that began in 2007, and organizers intend to hold the first part of this year’s event in the Crofton area.
Facilities for the race will be set up on the Crofton Sportsfield Park and Community Centre grounds, and campgrounds and parking areas for the competitors and guests will be designated.
North Cowichan council gave the green light for a temporary use permit for the event to proceed on municipal properties at its meeting on April 19, but some councillors raised concerns.
Coun. Bruce Findlay, who lives in Crofton, said he thinks it’s the wrong place to hold such an event.
“I think the Exhibition grounds is a way more set up location for this,” he said.
“I don’t think there will be much benefit to Crofton specifically and there will be damage to the [sports] field, and the mobility of the community is going to be infringed upon significantly, so I’m not going to vote for this motion.”
Coun. Tek Manhas said he shares Findlay’s concerns and the fact that there are no plans for North Cowichan to charge BC Bike Race for the use of municipal land and facilities for the event as it’s a for-profit organization.
“We have non-profits that use our facilities and we charge them for it,” he said.
Manhas asked Neil Pukesh, North Cowichan’s director of parks and recreation, if the BC Bike Race organization would have to make a damage deposit.
Pukesh said that in 2019, the last time the BC Bike Race was in the municipality, there was a 27-point plan that was established outlining what is expected, and North Cowichan plans to establish a plan this time as well.
“There will be deposits in place for damage to the field and the field’s sprinkler systems, and stakes can’t be put into the ground,” he said.
“There will be a lot of measures that will be in place to prevent property damage and we believe the damage deposit will cover any possible damage that could occur.”
Coun. Chris Istace said the BC Bike Race is a high profile event, with riders coming from 28 countries across the globe to the event in July.
“This is a magnitude of high proportion for North Cowichan and will put it on the world stage,” he said. “There will also be journalists and videographers there from around the world. What the BC Bike Race has done in its 17 years and why I’m so excited for it to be here is they really want to put the time and effort into a community…The entire community gets behind it and it’s such a powerful and uplifting experience.”
Istace also pointed out that the province did an economic impact study on the BC Bike Race and that when it was in Cumberland for one day, there was an economic output of $120,000 for the day.
“This one will be three days in Crofton,” he said. “There will be benefits for everyone.”
Council voted to allow the a temporary-use permit for the event, with Findlay and Manhas opposed.