Nanaimo bike park to be named after world champion mountain bike racer

NANAIMO – The city will move ahead with detailed designs of a new community bike park at Beban Park after getting council approval Monday.

A new, public bike park gaining traction in the Harbour City will be named in memory of Nanaimo world champion mountain bike racer Steve Smith, who died in a motorcycle accident in May.

Michelle Corfield, a friend of Smith’s mother and co-founder of the Steve Smith Legacy Fund, called for Nanaimo city council to name a Beban Park jump park and pump track after the athlete whose dream it was to build one.

For the past six months, the city has partnered with the Gyro Club of Nanaimo to work on a concept for a new bike park at Beban Park that’s set to feature a pump track, skills trail and dirt jump park. The jump park, the largest part of the project and estimated to cost $320,000, would be built first, according to Kirsty MacDonald, city parks and open space planner.

City council agreed at a meeting last week to spend $22,000 on detailed designs for the jump park, with half the cost coming from private contributions, as well as to include the cost, once detailed designs are done, in its 2017-2021 capital plan and name the park after Steve Smith.

Corfield, who started the Steve Smith Legacy Fund with Gabe Fox of Devinci Cycles, said they have more than $60,000 to support cycling initiatives in Canada and the jump park and pump track would be the launch of the legacy fund activities.

It’s going to give people a place to go and remember Smith doing what he used to love to do growing up in this city, she said.

“He came from BMX,” she said. “It’s an important grounding place for riders to go and acknowledge and build skills and do the development.”

Jordan Ferguson, who knew Steve Smith, said that council named the park after him is amazing.

“A person that has kind of put Nanaimo and Canada on the map in the cycling world – I think it’s a great way to honour him and it was something he wanted and unfortunately didn’t get to accomplish,” he said.

Ferguson said there is nothing in Nanaimo like this park, it’ll be geared toward all types of cycling and will have people who are just learning to the pro riders. Having something like the park that’s maintained and legal is a “huge asset,” especially for tourism, he said.

“There’s other communities that have this and they see a ton of draw from other places,” he said. “Nanaimo I think is lacking in that tourism draw for mountain biking.”

Detailed designs are expected to get underway within the next two weeks.