Towns get park projects on rails

Central Alberta skateboarders are on a roll. After years of persistent lobbying and fundraising, skateboarding groups backed by supportive municipalities are seeing their skatepark dreams inch closer to realization.

Dylan Redcalf

Dylan Redcalf

Central Alberta skateboarders are on a roll.

After years of persistent lobbying and fundraising, skateboarding groups backed by supportive municipalities are seeing their skatepark dreams inch closer to realization.

In Olds, construction began this week on a new skateboard facility in Centennial Park. The $350,000 project is expected to be ready by the end of August.

Sylvan Lake skateboarders are rallying their supporters to convince town council to approve a proposed location on a CPR trailway near the downtown and get designs on that project moving.

The Town of Lacombe has also given its skateboard park efforts a boost by donating an acre of land and squirrelling away $125,000 in its capital budget. An invigorated skateboard committee is now focusing on raising $375,000 to build the facility in time for a fall 2011 opening.

Olds community services co-ordinator Carly Smart said construction is expected to start on the park-style skateboard facility next week. Up until now, skateboarders have had to make do with parking lots, and some have tried out their tricks in front of the local museum.

“We have had interest definitely in the community, I would say, for the last three years,” said Smart. “It kind of just got rolling in the spring of last year.”

The town is bankrolling the project with help from a $50,000 donation from the local Knights of Columbus club.

The skateboard park won’t include a bowl but will have a number of other features such as stairs, rails and ramps.

In Sylvan Lake, council is expected to decide on June 14 whether to support a recommendation from a skate park planning and design task force to develop a park near the downtown on 47th Avenue near the bottom of 52nd Street. There is already $250,000 in the town’s budget to get design work started.

An information rally has been organized by local skateboarders to show support for the project and the proposed site. The gathering is set for 7 p.m. on June 11 at Incline Industries at 4425 50th St. Incline sells skateboard and BMX equipment, clothing and gear and operates an indoor park.

Task force member Jeff Johns said the town has a few skateboard and BMX features at a small park near the RCMP station. A few pre-fabricated ledges and banks were added four or five years ago, but it’s time for an upgrade.

“It’s still really way, way below the standard of where skate parks are in other towns right now, and way below what the town has demand for.”

Derrick Mitchinson, president of the Sylvan Lake Skateboard Association, said they hope to encourage a show of support from community members and parents as well as skateboarders and BMXers.

“We want to make it easy for council to say ‘yes’ for something they’re pretty supportive of already,” said Mitchinson, who also sat on the task force.

Local skate park supporters have done some fundraising with bottle drives and the proceeds from the rally, which include a movie night, will also go towards a new park.

Once a site is chosen, government grants, corporate sponsors and other fundraising initiatives can be pursued, and design work begun.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com