Growing in popularity, Sunday’s Saanich Cycling Festival has moved to a new home and bears a new theme, Explore Saanich.
After five years as a mass participation ride along Shelbourne Street, the ride turnout was solid but also static, said Coun. Judy Brownoff, festival co-ordinator.
However, the number of youth turning out to the festival’s event area at the University of Victoria was growing, and peaked over 200 last year. With that in mind, Saanich Cycling Festival will be the first festival type event run in the parking lot of Saanich Municipal Hall, at least that Brownoff knows of.
The free event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday in the Saanich Municipal Hall parking lot at 770 Vernon Ave.
“I’ve been trying to hold an event here for years, it’s going to be a great use of the space,” she said.
This year Brownoff hopes for, and expects, at least 200 kids will show up with their families. Members of the Saanich Police bike patrol will lead the kids on a 1 p.m. ride up the paved Douglas Connector trail from municipal hall to Rainbow Park.
Children are encouraged to ride with a decorated bike, and one child will win $200 towards a new bike.
In place of a mass ride is a new format that sees Saanich hosting eight Celebration Stations around the district. Most are on family friendly routes, designed to highlight the Lochside, Galloping Goose and Interurban cycling and trail system.
“The goal is to really explore, the more stamps from celebration stations you get the better chance to win a prize basket,” Brownoff said.
Brownoff initiated the Cycling Festival when she was chair of bike pedestrian committee. That first year, Adam Kreek led about 700 people from Gordon Head Recreation Centre down to Shelbourne plaza. It moved to UVic until this year.
In anticipation of the upswing in Sunday’s cycling traffic, the CRD monitored cycling numbers on the Goose and Lochside last weekend. They will return this Sunday to compare.
“We want to see how many families will go to celebration stations and which will be the most popular,” Brownoff said. “Our goal is we’re hoping that people will send us comments on what’s missing, what went well, and hopefully we’ll add a couple more stations next year.
The plan is that most families will tour Saanich and return to Saanich Municipal Hall (one of the celebration stations) for the 1 p.m. kids ride. Saanich Hall will have a bike rodeo, a cycling obstacle course and skills challenge, live entertainment, face painting, a Saanich giant game board, bouncy castle, bike safety tent and several food trucks and concessions.
The celebration stations are as follows: Saanich Municipal Hall; Tillicum Road at the Galloping Goose Trail, Grange Road at the Galloping Goose Trail (next to Marigold elementary), Copley Park, Lochside Drive, Royal Oak Drive (next to Lochside elementary), Tyndall Park, Quadra Street at Lochside Regional Trail (next to the Return It Bottle Depot) and Rainbow Park.
For details visit saanichcyclingfestival.ca.