North Saanich Freeride Park aids youth mental health

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North Saanich Freeride Park continues to help young people overcome mental health challenges.

Friends of North Saanich Mountain Bike Park Society president Kyle White said the park was incredibly significant for him growing up, and that’s why he gives back and enjoys seeing the positive effect it has on young people.

“The park has given me a lot,” White said. “You can go there any day in the summer and there will be someone else there that will ride with you and help you progress as a cyclist. It allows kids to really challenge themselves and do things they didn’t think they were able to do. It’s such a good place for kids to go and practise mountain biking. Everyone is welcome to come and ride.”

The Friends of North Saanich Mountain Bike Park Society is a non-profit that manages and maintains the park and volunteers are welcome to lend a hand.

Quinten Erichsen grew up in the Deep Cove neighbourhood and has spent thousands of hours riding at the park.

“That’s what I did every day during the summer,” Erichsen said. “It’s the only spot I could really focus, I never did anything else. I’ve made tons of close friends. It’s super important for kids to stay active. There’s nothing better than kids getting into a healthy sport like that. It is the best local spot.”

The park has been open since 2008 and has been an inclusive and unique space in the area.

“When the park first opened, there was nothing else like it in Greater Victoria,” White said. “Everyone is welcome to come and ride. It was really the first public place where I could go and express myself in terms of jump building and stuff like that. I got hooked from the beginning.”

The society is planning to spend approximately $20,000 for maintenance and to improve the park this year. The green section will soon be seeing a complete refresh.

“We have a professional trail-building crew starting next week,” White said. “They will add some new variety to that section of the park. It’s the lowest skill level section. It hasn’t been worked on for quite a while.”

White is hoping the park will be ready for the season around May 20.

“That is subject to change,” White added. “It depends on the weather and stuff like that. I’m excited. It’s looking like it’s going to be our best year yet.”  

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