Skateboarders want a voice in new Sylvan Lake skate, BMX park

Skateboarders in Sylvan Lake have asked town council to let them in on development of a new skate and extreme BMX park.

Josh Bawtinheimer

Josh Bawtinheimer

Skateboarders in Sylvan Lake have asked town council to let them in on development of a new skate and extreme BMX park.

Depending on where the town decides to build its new administration building, the existing park, next to the RCMP detachment, will have to be either moved or renovated.

Mayor Susan Samson said the existing RCMP building is one of the sites the town is considering, which would likely mean the skate park would have to be moved.

Members of the Sylvan Lake Skateboarders Association presented their ideas for a developing or rebuilding the park at town council’s regular meeting last week.

More than anything else, presenting to council was a way to make sure the skate park stays on the radar as the town plans for the future, said summer resident Derrick Mitchinson, who founded the group.

A Calgary high school teacher, Mitchinson has no youngsters of his own but considers himself an advocate for children and teens. He got involved with the skate park after developing a friendship with Chris Sereda, owner of a board shop in Sylvan Lake.

“We got talking about a skate park. Individual sports like skateboarding and BMX and mountain biking have boomed while soccer and hockey have dropped off, but the facilities have not kept up.”

Even if the skate park stays where it is, it needs major upgrades, said Mitchinson.

Samson said the group’s presentation, including a delegation of skaters ranging from four to 20 years old, earned it a great deal of credibility with council.

The group was able to show that they have the knowledge and the support they need to help find a site and to design and build the new skate park, said Samson.

“The Town of Sylvan Lake is going to build a new skateboard park, but it’s in the most preliminary stages. When the time comes to actually construct the skateboard park, Derrick was very clear to us that there are good skate parks and there are bad parks.”

Along with support from the business community, the skateboarding association has formed a partnership with Sylvan Lake’s newly-formed Optimists Club, which has adopted the skate park as its first project, said Samson.

“(The skateboarders) have people behind them who will give us shoulders to the shovels. You know, that’s what we want in our community, citizen engagement. We want those people who are going to use the stuff to be the ones doing the planning.”

Sylvan Lake has the youngest population in Alberta, so the existing park is well used both by skaters and BMXers, said Samson.

“It’s a real mix, and it’s a real cross section of ages, both boys and girls,” she said.

Mitchinson estimated that renovating or building a new park will cost $400,000 to $500,000. Having the Optimists on board will make a significant impact on fundraising for the park, he said.

There’s no pressure right now, because nothing happens until the town decides where to put its new building, said Samson. That decision is on hold because so many people, both councillors and staff, are on vacation or busy in the summer tourism industry.

“Time is on our hands until the fall,” she said.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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