Beiseker motocross enthusiasts are rallying community members together to secure a spot that would provide motorbike riders in the village and the surrounding area with safe and legal access to a local motocross track.
Shane Ozouf, a member of a local advocacy group lobbying for a Beiseker-based motocross track, said the group is currently in the preliminary stages of its advocacy efforts, but they have a plan of action to increase awareness of their cause.
“Essentially, what we’re looking to do is bring a family-oriented moto track into the area,” he said, acknowledging a location has not yet been determined. “We thought we had a location in mind, but it turned out it wouldn’t work after we had some interviews with other moto track associations in Alberta.”
While the details of the new sport track haven’t been fully worked out, he said the idea of a moto track has been well received by community members in Beiseker so far.
“We’ve definitely received pretty positive responses [to] a couple of surveys put out,” he said. “From the preliminary data we gathered, it looked like we had a pretty high positive response rate.”
He said the group is looking to ramp up advocacy efforts in the next few weeks, with additional social media campaigns to raise awareness and get the ball rolling on the development of the track.
“[We want to] get a lot more action on our social media feeds so we can get the name out there, and make sure a lot of people know what it’s about so we can get more feedback and more participation and involvement from the community,” he said.
According to Ozouf, the group was originally hoping to begin construction on the new track this summer, but because of a few roadblocks they encountered, they have revised their plans to include tentative development of the new track in the summer of 2023.
“It’s kind of open to ideas at this point,” he said. “Part of our drive with social media efforts is to look for local landowners to see if they have land that might be repurposed.”
Ozouf added after meeting with various motocross track owners in Alberta, they discovered finding a local landowner to sponsor their cause is the route many others have taken.
“If the land is useless, if you can't use it for farming or for cattle, then it's a good opportunity to turn it into something that will help bolster the community,” he said. “Ultimately, our goal is to bring more people into the area of Beiseker to help raise and stimulate the economy out here.
“In my point of view, it will bring a lot of business and a lot of people.”
He added while he hopes a track will be a drawing card for riders in the surrounding areas to visit Beiseker, there are other important reasons for its development as well.
“I think the most important [reason] is to bring something for families to do in the area,” he said. “It will be catered towards children [and] teenagers, but adults would be able to use it as well and have fun.”
According to Ozouf, without a nearby moto track, some motocross riders and trail riders are making use of a piece of land that is technically not legal to ride on.
The group hopes to provide a safe and legal space for these athletes to ride instead.
“Our plan is to mitigate that, because right now if somebody is riding on illegal land and they get injured, they’re much less likely to want to call for help,” he said. “We really just want to provide them with a safe place for that kind of thing.”
Ozouf said he has spoken to the Beiseker Chamber of Commerce and various other economic development groups, voicing the idea of a moto track that would serve to raise the image of the village and help bring tourists.
“We haven’t done any [formal] presentations yet, but we do have one in the works and we’ve been in communication with some of the political administration here to try and move things forward,” he said, adding the group has been working to complete the appropriate studies and obtain the right permits.
Primarily, Ozouf said the group is planning to continue its efforts to raise awareness of the cause and foster more involvement and donations from the community, including the addition of more volunteers and board members.
“They can bring on some ideas, things like that,” he said. “But definitely the next step after we get a little bit more involvement is to start expanding our plan, look for people that may have land, and then petition the chamber and the political groups here and see what we can do with that.”
He said the group is planning to hold a fundraising and informational barbecue at the end of the month to help increase awareness of their cause.
“We’re trying to garner a lot of community support and get a lot of people to come out to that and see if we can sort of smooth talk the community,” he said.
According to Beiseker mayor, Warren Wise, the location of the track will determine its success and favour amongst residents.
“Motorized bikes can be pretty noisy, so I would think it would have to be somewhere where that would be taken into consideration,” he said. "If they could find a good location, I'd certainly support them on it.”
He added while Beiseker's population isn't large, there are a number of people in the community who would probably be interested in the initiative.
“I look forward to seeing what they would come up with,” he said.
When reached, representatives from the Beiseker & District Chamber of Commerce declined to comment, stating they didn't have any information about the proposed track at this time.