Petition: Protect Our BMX Tracks
By Ben Ramcharan, candidate for Nillumbik Council
Nillumbik Council is threatening to tear down community BMX tracks, forcing kids to travel to Eltham if they want to ride. Sign the petition now and tell Nillumbik Council that kids everywhere should be able to access BMX tracks locally!
It was Tuesday 11 August. Nillumbik Council had an exciting opportunity to apply for grants from the State Government to revitalise local parks. Four speakers from the local BMX community Zoomed in to speak in favour of revitalising Eltham Skate Park. Speaker Kylie Andreetta spoke of the huge benefits that BMX riding has had for her kids. “As the boys have now become independent, they are now out on their own adventures, getting themselves to their favourite facilities, making jumps and making important decisions, developing life skills of risk, design, creativity, problem solving, getting physical activity and fresh air rather than being indoors on electronic devices,” said Andreetta.
Having heard the speakers, Council agreed to apply for $600,000 to upgrade Eltham Skate Park, a welcome initiative. But it failed to address an important point. “The impending decision to remove the dirt tracks has impacted our boys and the very large Nillumbik community of BMX riders,” said Andreeta, speaking of community-run dirt BMX tracks across the shire. Andreeta acknowledged the progressive nature of Council in engaging with those who’ve been impacted by this decision and said that she understands the decision despite disagreeing.
With $600,000 spent for the kids in Eltham, kids in other parts of Nillumbik are getting nothing. In fact, their local BMX trails are being removed by Council. As kids age, they should be able to gain their independence by making their own way to local facilities. Instead, with no public transport in rural parts of Nillumbik, they will have to rely on their parents to drive them to Eltham.
While kids in Eltham are getting a welcome upgrade to their facility, kids in other areas are missing out.
Too many BMX tracks in Nillumbik have been deemed illegal by Council and are soon to be removed, including in Eltham North and Research. It leaves kids in Research, North Warrandyte and other rural areas such as Kangaroo Ground with nowhere to play locally and no way of travelling to their nearest facility. This is why community-run tracks like the one in St Andrews are so important.
The issue also extends much further than BMX tracks. Other family facilities such as playgrounds are sorely needed by communities across Nillumbik.
It’s not fair that all this money is spent in Eltham. Ratepayers in other parts of Nillumbik deserve their fair share!
If existing dirt tracks are illegal, Council needs to find ways of replacing them, not tearing them down altogether. While we should be giving kids the autonomy and independence to build their own tracks, Council can play an important role in identifying appropriate sites and providing funding to help build and maintain tracks on those sites. This wouldn’t cost much but it would make a huge difference for our community.
This issue isn’t just impacting on kids. It’s having an impact on the environment too.
If kids are deprived of BMX tracks in their local area, they will make do with what they’ve got and this can have a negative impact on the local area. This recently became an issue at Yarramie Reserve in Research, where some kids tried to do BMX jumps through areas of vegetation, destroying it in the process. Had they been given a designated place to ride locally, this wouldn’t have happened.
BMX tracks are good for families and good for the community. They give kids a reason to get out the house, get some fresh air and get involved in sport. They help kids become independent and when Council helps create them in appropriate areas, they prevent damage to the local environment.
Families all over Nillumbik should have local facilities for kids of all ages. Sign the petition now and tell Nillumbik Council to protect dirt jumps in all areas
We request that Nillumbik Council:
- Creates a plan to install family-friendly facilities such as BMX tracks and playgrounds within walking distance of all major communities
- Considers all dirt jump tracks carefully on a case-by-case basis and identifies alternatives to tearing them down where possible
- Identifies appropriate local sites for new BMX tracks to replace any tracks that are torn down
- Facilitates BMX communities to build their own tracks on appropriate sites with some Council funding
- Ensures all new family facilities are in line with local character and minimises any damage to the environment during construction