Oviatt Bike Park is located on a six-acre lot in the Strawberry Meadows area of town. (Photo Supplied/Spruce Tree Media Ltd)

Oviatt Bike Park is located on a six-acre lot in the Strawberry Meadows area of town. (Photo Supplied/Spruce Tree Media Ltd)

PROGRESS 2023: Bears and bikes at Oviatt Bike Park

PROGRESS 2023 is published by the Northern Sentinel

Oviatt Bike Park opened in the summer of 2022 and bikers of all ages have been enjoying the new state-of-the-art track. The park has been in the works since 2020. Construction was done by Velosolutions, a pump track constructor company.

A pump track is a circuit of banked turns and features designed to be ridden by riders pumping. Pumping is when cyclists generate momentum by up and down body movements.

The new bike park is entirely funded by the Oviatt Family. Jack Oviatt has lived in Kitimat for 50 years, and is a contractor who specializes in land development.

”Kitimat has been really good to me, we live in paradise,” said Oviatt. “Planning this bike park project has been a lot of fun for me in my retirement.“

The bike park is on a six-acre lot in the Strawberry Meadows area of town. The selection of the contractor was a conscious effort to bring competition to town.

“The future for the project, we hope, is going to be some sort of Red Bull competition,” said Oviatt. “Velosolutions are the only pump track builder that Red Bull will do races on.”

The bike park also features a 14.5-foot grizzly bear sculpture fashioned from dozens of lengths of steel. The massive art installation is both a watchful guardian of the small coastal town’s newest community asset, but also a symbol of resilience, pride and connection to the land.

The towering piece was painstakingly constructed from a mixture of one-inch solid square steel and 2.5-inch flat bar in corten steel. Over the course of six months, Terrace-based photographer, artist and blacksmith, Steve Rogers, pieced the giant grizzly together.

Standing on its hind legs, front paws curved low in front of its belly with its giant jaws wide open – the sculpture exudes power and a bit of ferociousness.

“I wanted to represent the bear differently than a bear on all fours. My interest came from watching videos of Kodiak bears and grizzlies fighting on the beach. I wanted to emulate that aggressive prideful posture, rather than a subdued four-legged stance,” says Rogers.

Rogers has developed a reputation in northwestern B.C. for creating public art located in wild, outdoor spaces

Rogers’ company, Great Bear Ironworks, has become known for its production of distinctive steel sculptures that celebrate local wildlife, but which are also installed in some very unlikely locations in remote northern B.C. He’s most well known for what has become a staple to visit in the neighbouring city of Terrace – the Terrace Wolfpack. It was experiencing the wolves that prompted Oviatt to select Rogers for the bike park project.

For Rogers, creating art that transforms people’s experiences of wild spaces is exactly what he’s trying to achieve. And for Jack Oviatt, installing an art piece that is so big and impactful at the newly minted bike park transforms that space to draw bikers, art lovers, locals and visitors alike.

“Along with the park, it will draw people to Kitimat,” Oviatt says.

The bear and the park are like a love letter to a community that he has lived in and built his business in over the course of a long career. Oviatt wanted to leave a legacy that would benefit the community for generations to come, promote healthy living and give back to a community that has given so much to him and he couldn’t be happier with the result.

“He’s fantastic,” says Oviatt of the giant steel bruin. “We have had great feedback from people all over. He fits well in the park.”

– With files from Binny Paul, Christian Apostolovski and Sarah Zimmerman

See an e-edition of PROGRESS 2023 here.


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