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Ambleside Skatepark Project wants new spot to board
Ambleside Skatepark is outdated, damaged and dangerous, according to a group trying to revive the 21-year-old hangout.
"Elements have caused noticeable damage to the surface and obstacles," says Eric Savics as he scans the skatepark on a sunny morning.
The design, he says, is outdated by more than a decade and worn-out obstacles have cracks and bumps that make skaters trip.
Its condition, he adds, isn't good enough for B.C.'s only waterfront skatepark.
To get the District of West Vancouver's attention, Savics is working with The Ambleside Skatepark Project.
In late February, the group is hosting an open house at district hall to gather feedback on what a new skatepark should look like.
A document will then be created and presented to council by the end of this year.
"In the last five to eight years skatepark design firms have made skateparks aesthetically pleasing, in addition to challenging and creative," says Savics, a 26-year-old from West Vancouver who owns Vancouver Urban Timberworks in Lower Lonsdale.
He says online reviews for Ambleside Skatepark are "embarrassing" for such a prime spot.
A quick Google search seems to indicate the skatepark isn't up to Lower Mainland standards.
"Ambleside skatepark is pretty weak, especially for BC. As in, "S***, we drove all the way here for this…" says one reviewer on sk8parklist.com.
"West Van is like the Beverly Hills of BC and this park still sucks," says another
"This place makes even the most modest parks look hairball. C-, baby, is all you get."
A new skatepark will likely cost around $200,000, with $80,000 going towards a new concrete surface.
Supra Distribution, a North Vancouver-based skateboard, footwear and apparel distributor, will provide partial funding if the project is given the green light.
In addition to fundraising, Savics hopes the rest of the money will come from the district.
Jeff McDonald, spokesman for the District of West Vancouver, says staff will be working with the group this month.
Because of the skatepark's location close to the water it will be a challenge finding material that will better withstand the elements, he says.
"We know there are issues with the surface… That will be taken into consideration with any plans for an upgrade."
However, he adds, it's too early to determine whether the municipality will fund the project.
"It's fair to say staff are on board and recognize a need for this but we want to do it the right way," he says.
Besides providing a place to exercise and socialize, skateparks create a sense of community, says Savics.
"Skateboarding can really help kids and youth to develop socially and creatively," he says.
The new Ambleside Skatepark wouldn't be modeled after any other location.
Savics and other group members want an original design that is aesthetically pleasing and incorporates the waterfront.
"We're trying to create a vibe or energy seen at other seaside spots," he explains, giving Venice Beach in California and Bondi Beach in Australia as examples.
"In Australia there's no delineation between the park, the beach and the rest of the geography — this is what we want."
The exact date of the group's open house will be amblesideskatepark.com in the next couple weeks.