A 50/50 raffle has kicked off a drive to raise funds for a major upgrade of Bike Cochrane's LaunchPad in downtown Cochrane.

Because the bike park can now be a permanent fixture on Bow St. in the Quarry, it has opened the door to upgrades that will make it accessible to more users, more often. A redesign and paving will allow scooter-riders and skateboarders to also enjoy the space. 

Paul Perrault, Bike Cochrane's director of operations, says they estimate the upgrade will cost over $100,000 and will be completed once enough funds are raised. The raffle is a major kick-off to that fundraising drive.

"We were always concerned about the longevity of investing a bunch of money into a site that we might lose the next year," explains Perrault, "and so now that we have longer-term confidence in that site we are looking to move it forward, redesign it for a bit of a wider age range."

He says currently the park is typically utilized by youth ages three to six, and that older kids tend to get pretty bored, pretty quickly.

"So we want to make that more exciting fun space for kids 3 to 12, for young adults, and for even dorks like me riding around on a bike. It's a lot more fun when there's a little bit more to engage with."

He believes Cochrane is fortunate to have the luxury of having this kind of facility right in the heart of the community. Typically, you find them on the outskirts of communities.

"We love the idea that that kids can ride there and go play without having to drive somewhere. We're quite excited to move to phase two to redesign our pump track and pave it, and that's really what this fundraising program is all about."

The raffle is capped at $20,000 and one lucky winner will walk away with $10,000 when the draw is made on Dec. 15, just in the nick of time for Christmas.

Perrault says they are currently working with a couple of different companies on possible designs. Depending on their success in fundraising, they could be accepting quotes for the project as early as next spring.

"We may be able to kick this off as early as next year," he says. "If we're not at that threshold, it might be the year after, but we'd love to have the park redesigned and kids riding on it next summer.

Raffle tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

He says the new trend in pump tracks is to include skateboarders and scooter users. Calgary, Okotoks, and Airdrie are among the communities adopting this approach.

By paving the track, it will drastically reduce hours of maintenance and allow the park to be open more frequently. After a rainfall, they currently have to close the park and let it dry. He says they forecast the numbers of the number of hours of operation by more than 60 per cent.

"A paved track surface just expands the number of times people will go there and they won't be disappointed. We looked at a pump track that was in Golden and that was very similar to our LaunchPad. When they redesigned it, it more than doubled the number of hours people could use it."

It even opens the door to occasional winter use.

"We could leave a shovel there and when we get the Chinooks in February the kids could be riding if we shovel. That's just not something that's possible right now, so we're very excited about the future and about what we can do with the new design of LaunchPad phase two."

Perrault says they are fortunate to have 20 corporate sponsors and also gives a shout-out to those already stepping forward to assist with the project. A grant from the Bow RiversEdge Campground has helped them move ahead with the redesign and soil tests. They've also received small grants from the Town of Cochrane and Rocky View County.

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raffle poster