Plans for Quesnel’s skatepark extension are well underway.
The city held another Skatepark Stakeholder Meeting on Jan. 11 in City Hall Council Chambers, and around 15 people showed up – including youth and adults who use the existing park, as well as parents – to meet with City of Quesnel director of corporate and financial services Kari Bolton and New Line Skateparks designer Jim Barnum.
New Line Skateparks, a skatepark design and construction firm based in Langley, B.C., has been working with Quesnel’s youth on the project after submitting a winning bid to the city.
Designer Barnum was present via conference call to hear further feedback from the group, after having consulted with them in a workshop in June and at a November meeting, during which they chose a design from three contenders.
The stakeholder group has chosen a street-skate design, with long extensions branching out from the existing park, located adjacent to West Park Mall near Baker Creek, just off Marsh Drive (see rendering at the end of this story).
The extensions will include various features including ledges, rails, stairs and raised platforms. The Jan. 11 meeting saw the group begin to refine Barnum’s design, adding a few features and changing the location of others.
The stakeholders at the meeting – who ranged in age from 13 to adult – expressed the desire to help construct the park to some extent. Barnum says due to regulations and restrictions with insurance, they will be unlikely to have Quesnel skateboarders work on the site, but he is looking into ways they can be involved.
Austin Watson, one of the stakeholders, broached the idea of building one of the pipes for the skatepark in metalshop at the high school, which Barnum thought was a great idea. He said during the meeting he would find out the specifications for the pipe, and whether or not they can legally add it to the park.
There were also discussions around adding parking, benches and a shelter structure, as well as removing some trees to make way for construction, and planting others in the green space. Bolton says the cost for these additional items will be covered by the City of Quesnel, once finalized.
Barnum says Quesnel’s group has been great to work with.
“The group has been very consistent, with the same people coming to the meetings. They have real buy-in and real interest, and have taken the time to come to every single meeting,” says Barnum.
“They seem to have a really strong community at the existing park; these guys and girls all seem to skate together and know each other really well, and know what they want. They have the existing park, so they know what’s missing and what’s going to make their park more well-rounded.”
The city has allocated $300,000 from its capital budget for the project, which Barnum says is an average amount to pay for a skatepark for a city of Quesnel’s size.
“Considering that we are adding to an existing park, it’s generous,” he says.
The stakeholder group raised over $4,000 towards the project last year, which they presented at a council meeting in February 2017.
The project initially sprang from a post on the local WTF Quesnel Facebook page. A youth had posted on the page, saying a new park was needed. The post got a lot of attention, attracting criticism of Quesnel’s youth as well as support for the idea of a new park.
Crystal Brekke, whose son skates at the existing park, saw the post and says she talked to her son and other skateboarders, telling them if they wanted a new park, they should show people they were willing to work for it.
“We began with a ‘clean the park’ day, where a group of youth got together and not only cleaned the skatepark, but the surrounding park,” she says.
The group of volunteers was then approached by the city, to partner with the aim of raising money for a skatepark extension.
“We have had a few different fundraisers as well as volunteered at different local events, for which we were given donations towards the park,” comments Brekke.
Construction on the project is yet to be scheduled, but the contract states the park must be completed by October 15, 2018.
“We are looking into getting our crew up there earlier, but nothing is confirmed,” says Barnum.
Brekke says the group of volunteers has been very motivated, and will continue to seek donations ahead of construction.
“Most of the people who’ve volunteered so far are getting to the age where they are going to be off working full time or going to school in another town, so it’s about handing it over for the next generation,” she explains.
Anyone interested in donating to the skatepark extension can contact Kari Bolton at the City of Quesnel.
City of Quesnel staff updated council on the plans at the Jan. 16 meeting, including presenting New Line Skateparks’ designs.