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Alberta

“A Really Special Place” – Why the Wild Rose Motocross Track is One of a Kind

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This summer, as you wander between the breweries and activity centers located in southeast Calgary, pause for a moment – if you listen closely, you may hear the distant rumble of motocross engines as bikes of all sizes careen over jumps and around corners at the Wild Rose Motocross Track.

Located just off Blackfoot Trail in Southeast Calgary, the 88-acre park is backed by the Calgary skyline, a prime piece of land located just minutes from downtown. Founded in the 1960’s as the Blackfoot Motorcycle Park, the track has deep roots in the city of Calgary, and according to WRMA board member David Pinkman, “Few sagas can compete with the wild west history of Calgary’s Wild Rose Motocross Association and its hard-core motocross lovers.” 


Photo Credit Eden Schell 

In 1984, The Wild Rose Motocross Association (WRMA) was officially formed, and the Blackfoot Motorcycle Park became the Wild Rose. Acting as a major host for a number of national motocross events since the 70’s and nurturing some of Canada’s best professional riders to date, Pinkman argues the “course of Canadian motocross history may not have been the same but for this unique piece of dirt and hills.”

With 7 tracks available including the full-sized Main, East and Hill Tracks, as well as the Extreme Beginner, Mini, Pee Wee, and Enduro Tracks, Wild Rose welcomes riders of all ages and skill levels. “This is the only track of its kind in Canada,” says Michelle McCarthy, newest member of the WRMA board, “It’s right in the centre of the city; it’s got 3 big bike tracks, the smaller tracks and the enduro park. This is a really special place.”
Whether it be your first time on a bike or the day you’re finally going to clear that 15-foot tabletop, the track encourages everyone to come out and ride. “People want to see new riders,” says McCarthy, “they want to see the community flourish. Plus, dirt biking is really, really fun,” she laughs.  


Photo Credit Eden Schell 

Like countless other Canadian businesses, the Wild Rose Track has taken a hit due to COVID-19, with day pass riders and memberships being significantly down. Open year round – weather permitting – the track normally sees up to 30,000 visits per year. However, due to the pandemic, numbers are currently far lower as the park operates within capacity limits. 

As a recreational park on city property, track management wanted to set an example for taking action to reduce the spread of COVID-19, responding rapidly to Alberta Government guidelines by implementing a number of new precautions and preventative measures. This includes constructing wash stations at every track, implementing paperless transactions and COVID-19 symptom screening upon entry to the park, as well as establishing an online scheduling system to limit the number of riders at the track at one time.  

In the midst of the new normal, the park remains committed to growing and supporting the motocross community in Calgary and beyond, staying on top of updates that will allow them to return to racing and regular operation as soon as possible. While all spring and summer race series have been cancelled by COVID-19, the WRMA is actively monitoring pandemic updates with the goal of hosting a successful race series this coming fall. 

To learn more about the Wild Rose Motocross Association, visit https://www.wildrosemx.com.

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

‘Tragic and senseless’: Prison for driver with brain tumour who killed pedestrian

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CALGARY — A judge has sentenced a man with a benign brain tumour, who lost consciousness while driving and killed a Calgary woman, to 27 months in prison. 

James Beagrie, 48, was originally charged with criminal negligence causing death after his truck hit Anjna Sharma, a mother of three, who had been on a walk during a work break in May 2017.

Beagrie pleaded guilty last fall to a lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death. 

Court heard he had been told by his doctor not to drive and, three months before killing Sharma, blacked out and got into a single-vehicle crash.

“I would describe this offence in two words — tragic and senseless,” Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Richard Neufeld said in his sentencing decision Thursday.

“Mr. Beagrie ignored all of those warnings and drove anyway, and he will live with that for the rest of his life. It’s exactly that type of behaviour that must be denounced and deterred so other lives can be saved.”

Neufeld said Beagrie deserved a sentence of 30 months, but he lowered it to 27 months because of the man’s “precarious medical condition.”

“In my view, justice without compassion is not justice at all … he is on borrowed time himself. A sentence of 2 1/2 years may turn out to be a life sentence,” said Neufeld.

The Crown had asked that Beagrie serve 2 1/2 years in prison. His defence lawyer suggested two years.

The judge also ordered Beagrie be banned from driving for 7 1/2 years after his release.

“If you do recover, as I hope you will, you will have served your debt to society and will deserve a chance after a period of time to return to normalcy,” Neufeld said.

“This ordeal does not need to define the rest of your life, just as I truly hope that it will not define the rest of the lives and happiness of the Sharma family in the years to come.”

On Monday, Beagrie apologized in court and promised not to drive when he get out of prison, unless it’s a matter of “life and limb.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

‘Brutal and callous:’ 15-year parole ineligibility for man who killed father

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CALGARY — A man who killed and dismembered his father has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance at parole for 15 years.

A jury found Zaineddin Al Aalak guilty in December of second-degree murder in the death of 53-year-old Mohamed Al Aalak. He was also convicted of offering an indignity to the man’s body.

Jurors rejected a claim by the 24-year-old that he was not criminally responsible because he was in the throes of a psychosis at the time of the killing and was unable to understand that his actions were wrong. 

Court heard that Zaineddin Al Aalak attacked his father from behind with a hammer and strangled him with his hands in July 2017. He dismembered and decapitated the body using power tools and dumped the parts at a construction site in Okotoks, a town south of Calgary.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David Labrenz said the crime was “brutal and callous” and that Al Aalak disposed of his father’s remains like they were “pieces of garbage.”

“There was a display of brutality at the time — and there was displayed a lack of compassion –over the way the father was killed and the way his body was treated after his death,” the judge said while giving his sentencing decision Thursday.

The conviction comes with an automatic life sentence, but court heard submissions from lawyers about how long Al Aalak should have to wait before he could apply for parole.

Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail had requested a wait of 16 to 18 years.

“Part of Mohamad Al Aalak’s body was never actually recovered and found,” she said. “His right hand was never located by police and therefore was not able to be buried with … his remains … in Iraq.”

Al Aalak’s lawyer, Alain Hepner, suggested his client serve 13 or 14 years in prison before could ask for release.

Hepner said his client, still a young man who had been “the favourite son” before the killing, is remorseful.

“He has — and he knows — he has destroyed his family. He knows what he’s done. He knows what has happened.”

Al Aalak offered an apology.

“It was by my hands that he died and for this I am sorry and in grief beyond words,” he told the court.

“The reason this happened was because of an altered state of mind that I experienced. I am consigned to live with that reality nonetheless.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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