Skateboard park report divides councillors

Red Deer’s second skateboard park will be built on a north-end school site, despite some reservations from several councillors on Monday that it should be located at the G.H. Dawe Centre.

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Red Deer’s second skateboard park will be built on a north-end school site, despite some reservations from several councillors on Monday that it should be located at the G.H. Dawe Centre.

City council was divided over a consultant’s report that said the Glendale School site was the best option. They did support the consultant’s recommendation that a spray park be placed within the downtown Rotary Recreation Park area.

ISL Engineering and Land Services investigated various sites for both the skateboard park and spray park. After consulting the public and doing a ranking of each site according to different criteria, it came up with the two final site locations.

Randy Heaps, chief operating officer and senior landscape architect for ISL based in Edmonton, said that the school location was ideal for the skateboard park.

For one thing, it’s on the north side of town where there are few recreational amenities and yet the area is growing residentially, he said.

There are also plans to build a community centre, with a youth focus, Heaps added.

Detailed designs of this centre are planned for 2014, with a total construction budget of about $1.4 million. Six neighbourhood associations are helping to see this centre come to fruition, said Recreation, Parks and Culture manager Greg Scott.

“The G.H. Dawe (Centre) was very close (as an ideal location) but we felt Glendale was slightly ahead because the city owns the land,” Heaps said, adding the G.H. Dawe would involve talks with the public and Catholic school boards.

Heaps said that the G.H. Dawe Centre already has so many amenities, including sports fields.

And with building expansion planned for some point, it was important to keep some of the land for that, he said.

Red Deer’s sole skateboard park currently exists near the Red Deer Arena along 43rd Street and 48th Avenue.

Councillors Chris Stephan, Frank Wong and Paul Harris called for the G.H. Dawe Centre to be the chosen site for a skateboard park. But they were defeated by Mayor Morris Flewwelling, and Councillors Buck Buchanan, Dianne Wyntjes and Tara Veer. Councillors Lynne Mulder and Cindy Jefferies were absent.

Stephan preferred the G.H.Dawe Centre site because this was the public’s favourite during recent open houses. Plus, he felt this location would be safer for youth because if they got hurt, they’re closer to medical services.

And while the older children are skateboarding, their siblings and parents can be enjoying other activities at the G.H. Dawe, he said.

Heaps replied that one of the city’s two open houses was held at the G.H. Dawe Centre so he said likely those people thought a skateboard park was good for that location.

“We received 33 comment forms back, so statistically it’s not a strong factor,” Heaps said.

Harris said he favoured the Dawe for various reasons too — it was the first choice of the citizens at the open houses, it would draw more people to the location, and it’s more centrally located.

“We should draw people into the centre and not to the edges,” said Harris.

Wong also preferred the Dawe better because of its access, plus it was a great location for a number of family services.

Although the Dawe might seem like a more central location, as the city continues to grow on the north side, the Glendale location is better suited, Veer said.

Wyntjes said this is a real opportunity to spread recreational facilities around the city, which is why she likes the Glendale site.

Plus, the downtown skateboard park doesn’t have medical services really close by and there doesn’t seem to be any problems with major injuries.

Flewwelling said he supported the Glendale site because he think it will better serve the north-end population in the long term.

Buchanan said he could go along with the Glendale location, but felt the skateboard park should be in Normandeau, just north of Glendale. He didn’t like the road access going in and out of the Glendale site.

After the Dawe motion was defeated, a motion to approve the Glendale location was approved by everyone but Wong and Stephan.

The city would spend $49,000 on designing the skate park in 2012. It would then be built in 2013, the year of the City of Red Deer’s centennial, with a draft budget of $1,378,000.

City council unanimously supported the spray park site, which would be on the northwest corner of the site near the Golden Circle seniors centre.

The spray park was budgeted in the 2012 capital budge for $1,161,000. It would be finished in 2013.

Veer said it was critical that parking plans be included in the final design, which was accepted by the rest of council.

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