The Yukon Cross Country Motorcycle Association is closer to having a lease in place to legitimize the use of a popular dirt bike area off Robert Service Way.
In a 4-1 vote Monday night, council approved the first two readings of a 10-year lease agreement for the eight-hectare site.
Coun. Betty Irwin was the only member of council to vote against the lease, though councillors Dan Boyd and Samson Hartland were absent from the meeting and thus did not vote.
The group is seeking the lease as well as council’s approval of its conditional use application for the site.
While Irwin voted against the lease, she remained clear her issue with it was largely around the 10-year period for the lease.
The agreement is coming forward as the city is in the midst of a planning study for the Robert Service Way area, which could impact planned uses of property there.
The proposed lease includes a clause that would allow the city to terminate the agreement, and the association is aware of the study and that the lease could be terminated. However, Irwin argued, it would still be difficult to alter or change anything.
She also pointed out the difficulty there would be for the city to enforce its ATV bylaw at events the group may host there, and the restrictions the motorcycle group would have in following the bylaw and Motor Vehicles Act on the site.
That would mean those under the age of 16 couldn’t participate in the events.
Irwin also said she just doesn’t feel it’s an appropriate location; that there are other sites that could be used.
She has said previously she would prefer to have a different agreement that would allow the group to use the site temporarily while the study is underway and/or another site is located for the group.
Coun. Rob Fendrick admitted he was a “little on the fence” on the issue.
He acknowledged the issues brought forward by Irwin as well as three delegates who spoke out against approving the conditional use application, citing issues around noise, potential conflicts with other non-motorized uses and so on.
Fendrick also noted the group’s plans for programming and potential proposed changes to the ATV bylaw that could allow for the group to offer education to younger riders on safe riding.
He said he hopes that efforts will be made to find another site for the group’s activities, but that for now, he would vote in favour of the lease.
Meanwhile, Mayor Dan Curtis pointed out the site has been used by riders for many years – since the 1970s, according to the association.
Trees around the site act as a buffer and, he noted that living in Riverdale, he has not heard noise from the site over the years.
Council heard complaints about potential noise, conflicts and the impact of the Robert Service Way study from three delegates.
It also heard from the association, which noted the site’s historical use for dirt bike and off-road vehicles.
The group also noted:
• the isolation from residential areas;
• the parking availability, which allows riders to transport their bikes on their vehicles to the site, park and then ride in an area designated for riding; and
• its plans to post signs and offer education around safe riding.
Already, people ride there just about every day in addition to the scheduled events that happen.
Council is set to vote on the conditional use application next week as well as third reading on the proposed lease.