Qualicum Beach council will look at including the renewal or replacement of the skatepark in the town’s 2022-2026 strategic plan and five-year financial budget.
The committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 30 heard a detailed presentation by Lindsay Reed, who led the delegation for a group of individuals advocating to get the town to upgrade and improve the outdated skatepark.
The committee unanimously endorsed staff recommendation for council to consider the skateboard project as a strategic priority.
Reed highlighted the need to improve the 20-year-old skatepark and make it safe for all users. She indicated 98 per cent of the respondents from the survey they have conducted expressed a strong desire for the town to build or improve the current facility.
She pointed out that a safe facility has positive connotations. They can address isolation and loneliness, remove barriers to allow demographic diversity, attract and retain young families and also can be added as a tourist destination. The survey revealed that 60 per cent of respondents agree that skateboard reduces stress and they do it for fun and physical health and also a way to meet people.
“Skateboarding is so much more than the tricks you’re trying to achieve,” said Reed. “It’s about coming together from all walks of life to support each other. It’s about getting over a crappy day or week and feeling good about yourself again. It’s about challenging yourself and not comparing yourself. It’s about friendship even if you’re different and acceptance even if you’re weird. I continually hear stores about how the skatepark is a place where some people feel the safest. And that leads me to believe that this activity is more than wooden wheel.”
Reed highlighted the importance of having the town collaborate, consult, engage and form partnership with School District 69, local artisans on artistic design elements, the Regional District of Nanaimo and businesses.
Forming a skateboarding steering committee was suggested, that would involve some members of council and Qualicum Beach Skaters members in the planning and funding of the project which Reed indicated, in her research, could cost between $600,000 to $1.5 million.
Reed said the cost could be less as Qualicum Beach already has an existing park and already has the other amenities such as washrooms and parking.
“The skatepark is specifically designed for activities that can’t be done safely anywhere in the town,” said Reed. “Without a safe space to skateboard, BMX and scooter, automatically more people are at risk. The old park continues to lure kids in only to find that they can’t really use it safely.”
Reed said skateboarding injuries are more prevalent and serious when the activity is engaged in the streets. The most common injuries at skatepark are injuries to the wrists and ankles.