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Citizen suggests North Bay needs a 'pump track' and knows just how to pay for it

A smaller spot near the splash pad, a medium facility alongside Memorial Drive, and a large track behind the downtown bus terminal were all identified from satellite images as prime locations 
Pump Track (Velosolutions)
A Velosolutions asphalt pump track. Photo: Vimeo

In his quest to find ways to help his son improve his physical literacy, Marty Simard says his frequent trips out of town in search of adventure have taught him North Bay is missing out on a certain type of recreational facility.

In a virtual presentation to North Bay City Council, Tuesday, Simard offered his findings on what he feels should fill that gap: a Velosolutions asphalt pump track (see video below).


Video courtesy of Velosolutions via Vimeo

According to Velosolutions, a company that manufactures the pump tracks, the name comes from the pumping motion made with the upper and lower body as users ride around the track. The track is designed so the pumping motion maintains speed around the track without pedalling. Users can ride not only with bicycles but also with skateboards, longboards, skates, and scooters.

Simard says such a venture could boost tourism and provide another option for physical activity and fresh air — especially for youth. He points to the Optimist Pump Park in Uxbridge, Ont., a 1,800 square metre facility connected directly to the existing skatepark. 

Organizers are already planning an expansion with a second track, as according to Simard, there are consistently 50 to 100 people using the original track when he visits with his son.

"We took a road trip and my 6-year-old son was instantly hooked," said Simard, who added pump tracks can be ridden by users of all ages and skill levels. 

"The enjoyment is palpable. There are a lot of people who travel one, two, or in my case, over three hours to get there," Simard told council members, "and every minute of driving there is worth it."

After consulting with Ontario-based asphalt pump track builder Canadian Ramp Company about potential locations, Simard says a smaller spot near the splash pad, a medium facility alongside Memorial Drive, and a large track behind the downtown bus terminal were all identified from satellite images as prime locations.

Simard feels the track should be built at the waterfront but could be situated in Thomson Park, where the City-owned skatepark is located, as an alternative choice. He adds he prefers the larger track for tourism and the potential attraction of international action sports events that would utilize the facility.

Simard suggests a pump track would be a perfect use of the Municipal Accommodation Tax revenue earmarked for tourism in North Bay as cycling-related tourism is a $500 million enterprise in Canada. As a gauge, the pump track in Uxbridge cost $350,000 to build and the larger track he envisions for North Bay would carry a price tag of less than $500,000.

See related story: Hotel tax yields nearly $1 million in 2019

And: Council looking at options to spend Municipal Accommodation Tax

Simard observes revenue from advertising on benches or paving stones could be used to mitigate what few operating or maintenance costs arise, while the facility could be rented out for special events and camps.

Simard is no stranger to directing the attention of municipal politicians to some of the innovations available to increase options for recreational activities. Last month, he participated in a City of North Bay town hall meeting and suggested expanding the skating oval throughout Lee Park, as well as adding outdoor ice skating facilities to other locations in the city, such as in Thomson Park, and eventually, on the surfaces of local lakes.

"A lot of you are probably looking at me right now, thinking where are your focus groups? Where are your petition signatures? Where are your fundraising efforts for the pump track? Where are the statistics? " said Simard to Council. "The truth is, I have none. I am a single father of a wonderful boy and I just want the best for him. I think that's true of all parents. However, most don't have the means to travel and they will never have these opportunities in North Bay."

Mayor Al McDonald assured Simard the pump track would be included in budget discussions.

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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