The potential that comes with a new velodrome goes far beyond creating competitive track cyclists, says project leader David Attwell.
Firstly, Uptown site isn’t the only site, there are quite a few – mostly in Saanich – and that’s because Saanich has shown an interest in adding a hotel to the region. The velodrome proposal, which Attwell presented to the Saanich Planning, Transportation and Economic Development Advisory Committee this week, is a combination of recreational facility, indoor velodrome, and a hotel.
Attwell is an avid cyclist who’s studied multiple examples of newly built velodromes in England and Europe that all include a recreational facility and either a hotel or are adjacent to a shopping mall.
“In England, the foot traffic to the velodrome benefits the mall,” he said.
And that’s why Uptown, University Heights, Tillicum centre, Cedar Hill and Gordon Head/Lambrick are all possible sites. The key is private-public partnerships.
“We know Saanich doesn’t have a capital budget to do this stuff,” Attwell said. “One model is that the private sector can build it, and either lease it back to the city or run it as a facility.”
Drawing people to the facility once its built isn’t something to worry about, he said.
The problem with the Westshore Velodrome is it’s limited in use to four months per year, May to August, with some usability in September (the concrete is highly dangerous with any moisture). Not only that, but Victoria’s road racing and bike tourism schedules swell in the summer and die in the winter.
Track cycling, however, is a winter sport and events in the velodrome facility, having a hotel there and hosting conferences, conventions, concerts in the facility would draw people to Victoria in the winter.
“You can fit five basketball courts inside a velodrome, and we know we’ve got 1,500 athletes in the night basketball league who had troubles getting courts this year and the same goes for night volleyball, with 1,000, people,” Attwell said. “With a net, the centre court can be used at the same time as cycling.”
If people need proof that velodromes work, in Milton they didn’t know if they’d fill it up, in fact, they have 9,500 certified riders registered at Milton and 330,000 annual visits to the track, not including the inside field for basketball and volleyball.
“We have a strong cycling community in Victoria, a school, a lot of users ready to step in,” Attwell said.