Canadian Cyclist


November 4/10 23:11 pm - City of Ottawa Bans Cyclo-cross in Parks

Posted by Editoress on 11/4/10

The City of Ottawa has recent decided to cancel the park permits for cyclo-cross for the balance of the season. This decision is due to City's concerns about damage to the grass. A local CBC report can be read Here

Ottawa cyclo-cross series organizers Bob Woods and Ian Austen have responded to the City's decision:

The City of Ottawa has cancelled our permits for the use of its parks. We encourage everyone to express their views about this to their member of City Council and the Mayor's office. You can find background about the dispute and the City's action below.

As a result, the schedule for November is now in flux.

The November 7th race has been moved to Gemmill Park in Almonte. If the community centre lot is full, do not park in the adjacent church lot. Street parking is available in the area.

A complete, revised schedule will follow.  (see website)

This week the permits for use of the City of Ottawa parks were revoked for the Ottawa Bicycle Club Eastern Ontario Cyclocross Series. This is the first time that this has happened in over 20 years. The main issue is the City's perception that the races are damaging parks.

My request for a formal appeal of the decision was refused by city staff. We are looking for support to have this decision changed. Please contact your city councilor and the outgoing mayor and the incoming mayor. Contact the media, friends and any others who can help raise this issue.

Our Message

1. There is minor, cosmetic damage visible during the fall from the races. But as you know as riders, after each winter it is healed by the early spring grass growth. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell where we have been by spring. Two decades of experiences support these observations.

2. The city staff offered no options for dealing with the situation. They were not looking at viable solutions nor were they interested in dealing with a client of 20 years. We are not valued as customers, we pay to use the parks, or as citizens. Indeed, the city staff have suggested that we relocate to Gatineau.

By contrast, communities that host races outside of Ottawa have expressed their appreciation of our events and note the business that they generate for their towns.

3. After more 20 years with no problems, how can these permits be revoked virtually overnight and mid-seasons without an appeal process?

4. The city staff says that the situation is particularly bad this year because of the rain. We have had other rainy cross seasons over the last 20 years but damage was not been a problem. We ride in the rain, and it rains in the fall. Several sports which use the grass in city parks are not banned when the ground is wet except in the early spring (When, of course, we don't race). Why is cross different?

5. The cyclocross series generates a sales significant for local small business owners who run bike stores during what would otherwise be an off-season.

6. The series generates significant economic spin-off for other merchants including restaurant owners and gas retailers.

7. The cyclocross series is an excellent physical fitness option for a broad range of citizens of all ages from young children to retirees.

8. How many other events in parks have been cancelled this year due to wet conditions or rain?

9. Over the past 20 years, the only complaints that we have had to deal related to a few people objecting to sharing parks with bike riders for one day. Before this year, there have never been complaints about the condition of the parks in the fall or spring.

Proposed Solution
Allow the races to continue under the original permits. If there is apparent turf damage in the spring let's do repairs if indeed.

Background info

- Riders in or series range in age from 6 to 70.
- There are approximately 180 riders each Sunday.
- There are 260 riders registered for the complete series.
- Riders come from all over Eastern Ontario (Cornwall, Kingston, Brockville, Renfrew, Deep River, Perth, Almonte), Quebec and the northern United States to race and they all spend money while here.
- The series has generated riders who have gone on to win provincial and national cyclocross championships. Some race internationally. They have represented Canada at World Cyclocross Championships.
- Both provincial and national cyclocross championships have been held in Ottawa at the Mooney's Bay Park in past years.


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