A Sleepy Little Town No More!

This article was published in The Chief, March 27, 2014

"Squamish may soon be home to Western Canada's first indoor mountain bike training centre.

The facility would be a part of Vancouver-based development company Solterra's Squamish Business Park proposal, which also includes a climbing gym.

“We're building on the economic base that has already been here,” company vice president Mike Bosa told District of Squamish officials at Tuesday's (March 25) Committee of the Whole meeting.

The 20-acre business park project will focus on “rec-tech” industries, he said, with the climbing gym and bike skills facility as the anchors to build off of. The project, which is slated for the corner of Queens and Commercial ways, aims to create a cluster of industries involved in outdoor activities taking place in Squamish, Bosa said.

Downtown, Solterra is ramping up work on its residential development, Eaglewinds. The company is completing 16 townhouses near the Squamish Senior Centre on Third Avenue. This summer, it's also set to begin construction on Nature's Gate, a 50-townhome development north of the Rockcliff building along Eaglewind Boulevard.

Near the Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Co. on Cleveland Avenue, Solterra has plans to create a temporary public market in the former PacWest building, Bosa said. The market would include seven permanent, five temporary and 21 semi-permanent storefronts. A playground would be built outside and a performance stage pitched in the main structure, Bosa said, noting the goal is to have it open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“It would provide people the opportunity to try something new,” he said, noting low rent would allow people to try out business ideas.

The indoor mountain bike facility, called District 99, would add to Squamish's trail system that's already putting the community on the map, proponent Scott Jewett said. Jewett, who works as a national event manager for the energy drink company Red Bull Canada, believes Squamish could become a hub for the sport.

District 99 would be a centre of excellence, with training facilities such as dirt tracks, wooden and rock obstacles, a foam pit and trampolines, he noted.

“This would be the first-ever facility in Canada that is purely focused on bikes,” Jewett said, noting the two indoor bike parks in eastern Canada include other activities, such as skateboarding.

Offices, housed in converted containers, would be placed within the building. They would be spaces for industries within the field, such as Red Bull's mountain bike video editing crew and designers of mountain bike equipment, Jewett said.

“Having industry involved with this facility would be key,” he said.

Across North America there's a growing interest in climbing gyms, proponent Lauren Watson said. Ground Up Climbing Centre will aim to fill Squamish's climbing education gap, providing reliable, year-round infrastructure for beginners and children's programming, she said.

“We will offer over 8,000 square feet of climbing terrain with 40-foot interior ceiling height,” Watson said.

The facility will include an elite bouldering and lead climbing terrain for experienced climbers. The centre will host year-round events such as movie and DJ nights, community meetings and friendly competitions, Watson said. It also plans to serve as the venue for national bouldering competitions.

“Squamish can be more than just the outdoor adventure capital of Canada,” Watson said. “It can be the climbing capital as well and Ground Up Climbing Centre is very excited to be a part of that legacy.”

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