Council backs grant application for skate park

The Kiwanis skate park project may be another step closer to becoming a reality this year after council agreed yesterday afternoon to forward an application for funding to the Trillium Foundation.
Steve Maki, chair of the skate park committee, met with council and town management at a special committee of the whole meeting at the Civic Centre.
Back on Feb. 22, council had requested some answers regarding liability in connection to—and the materials used to build—the proposed $250,000 skate park before giving the funding application its blessing.
Maki presented councillors with evidence to assure them of the safety of skateboarding in a properly- constructed concrete park. On a list of 10 sports and their associated rates of injury, skateboarding came in last—behind hockey, football, baseball, basketball, and even fishing.
“We certainly don’t question liability in terms of hockey or baseball.
And every summer, we have people fishing here during the bass tournament,” he remarked.
Maki also presented a list of quotes from directors of skate parks elsewhere saying there’s been no lawsuits levelled against them—information Coun. Tannis Drysdale agreed echoed that provided to the town by Bruce Armstrong of Gillons’ Insurance.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft asked if—from a safety standpoint—concrete parks were better than those with ramps of treated plywood or other materials.
“The smoother it is, the less bumps, the less injuries,” replied Maki, referring to the concrete design.
Community Services manager George Bell, who put together the Trillium funding application for the skate park, noted the main issue with liability with a skate park is maintenance.
A concrete park needs less maintenance, and thus, less liability.
He added modular parks—made up of movable ramps and other features that only are put outside for part of the year—aren’t a good idea as they pose a problem of storage.
The reason why some other municipalities go with modular parks is they’re slightly cheaper, noted Bell.
“Safety equipment should be a must. How can we promote good safety?” asked Coun. Wiedenhoeft.
“Most injuries are head-related. I like the idea of helmets, not for liability purposes, but for safety,” said Kiwanis president Rob Tovey, who also was on hand for yesterday’s meeting.
“Don’t make it [helmets] mandatory, because then you have to be there to enforce it. If you’re not there to enforce it, you open yourself up to liability,” warned Maki, adding signage strongly suggesting safety equipment usage would be posted.
“I also want to see a club or group to help promote safety,” he added.
Mayor Dan Onichuk agreed, noting he’d done some research of his own on the matter and determined the best way to educate is through a governing body.
“They would want to keep it together, keep it going,” he said, adding such a group also could aid with park maintenance, fundraising, and education, as well as organize events at the proposed skate park.
“The core thing is the club aspect. People will want to be part of it, to learn some new tricks if a professional comes in, or whatever,” he remarked.
Coun. Todd Hamilton asked whether the park would be supervised.
“Supervision is a very loose term,” said Tovey. “It will be supervised, even if that just means someone coming by every few hours.”^Bell added the park—which is earmarked to be built at Second Street East and Reid Avenue—will be monitored using the Memorial Sports Centre’s security camera system.
Last summer, the skate park committee was hopeful it would get the go-ahead from the previous town council and begin building the skate park before the fall.
But the proposed location posed a few problems.
Because of a waterline dissecting the property, the committee had to move the proposed skate park south of that, where it would take up 35 parking spots which would have to be replaced.
This change has since been factored into the skate park plans, noted Maki.
In addition, because the skate park would be designated as a “structure,” town bylaws demand another 45 new parking spaces be built.
But Maki said yesterday he’s filed an application with the committee of adjustment in hopes of waiving this designation, reasoning that not only does that area not need more parking spaces, but that most, if not all, traffic at a skate park will not be via a motor vehicle.
Convinced the skate park won’t be a legal liability to the town, a special council meeting was called after the committee of the whole meeting, at which time council voted in favour of sending the funding application forward to the Trillium Foundation.
The Trillium application is for up to $75,000, but it’s possible the project won’t get that entire sum.
The cost of the skate park is estimated at $250,000.
About $134,000 has been raised and pledged locally so far, with fundraising such as the skate park brick campaign ongoing.