Olympic Drive velodrome feasibility study questioned
Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News Staff
Published on May 27, 2010
Local Pan Am Games organizers will consult the National Cycling Committee of Hamilton, other cycling groups, and the public, about building a cycling velodrome on Olympic Drive in Dundas.
But any change from the planned west harbour site, where the facility is expected to be twinned with a Pan Am stadium is unlikely.
David Adames, of Tourism Hamilton, said last week the twinned west harbour location is part of the bid book which won the games for the Greater Toronto Area and “it would take a significant rationale to make it change.”
Adames said discussing the facility’s location is part of the ongoing business plan the city must complete. But the rationale for locating the indoor cycling facility at Olympic Park is already being questioned.
While the National Cycling Committee has completed a study it says indicates Olympic Park across from the Westoby Ice Surface is the best possible location, area residents are already pointing out some flaws in the argument –and it’s not clear if the site can actually be developed.
Olympic Park is designated as open space in the new City of Hamilton urban official plan. It is also currently designated as a community park.
The Hamilton Naturalist Club owns a 42- hectare nature sanctuary known as the Cartwright Nature Sanctuary, just up the road from Olympic Park. But the organization has never been contacted by anyone regarding any possibility of a velodrome being built in the area.
Naturalist Club member Jennifer Baker said the organization had not heard about the NCC feasibility study.
“We are concerned about any development that might impact Cootes Paradise and that would increase traffic flow,” Baker said.
Randy Kay, of the McMaster-based Transportation for Liveable Communities, also said he was never contacted about the feasibility study. He questioned several aspects of the NCC study that have actually gone public so far.
Kay suggested relocating the velodrome to Olympic Park would mean a loss of the “synergy” and “efficiency” of locating the cycling facility with the new stadium at the west harbour.
“We will have two footprints, each with their own building and parking requirements, and the Dundas site has the added concern with being in the midst of the environmentally sensitive area of Cootes Paradise,” he said.
Kay disagreed with the NCC suggestion that the more rural Dundas location would be accessible to more people, and provide nearby links to cycling trails. He noted the Dundas location is not well-served by public transportation.
“The west harbour location would provide more opportunity for sustainable transportation options with nearby frequent transit and cycling routes, and be closer to a much larger urban population,” Kay said.
As an avid cyclist and hiker who regularly uses area trails, Kay was also surprised to hear NCC president Andrew Iler suggest an Olympic Drive velodrome would provide links to mountain- biking trails.
He said neither the nearby Bruce Trail nor Royal Botanical Gardens trails are even open to cycling.
“These kind of comments leave me thinking the plan is not well thought out and could negatively impact the ecological integrity of the surrounding area,” Kay said.