Despite a lack of action over the last year, the dream of a skate park in Central Saanich is still alive, but a final decision on a site has yet to be made.
The choice is currently between a portion of Stelly’s Secondary School property and two sites in Centennial Park, one west of baseball diamond No. 6, and the other north of White Road trail fronting onto Wallace Drive.
Each site presents its own challenges.
According to District staff, desirable criteria for siting a new skate park include: an area where youth naturally gather, central location within the community, good visibility from a nearby street or public building, safe location, few nearby neighbours, on a bus route, nearby support amenities, minimal size requirements, clear site without trees close by, compatible adjacent uses, and that the skate park doesn’t displace other established park uses or be significantly out of character with the overall site.
The two sites in Centennial Park were investigated in 2003 and 2004, with the greatest challenges including the necessity of removing large trees and ensuring good visibility.
The site at Stelly’s would not require any tree removal and meets all the criteria associated with siting a skate park.
But though District staff had recommended the Stelly’s location in their most recent report, Councillor Alicia Cormier offered some concerns about the site after having spoken to several young skateboarders and their families.
Being beside the high school could be intimidating for younger students, she said, and noted there had also been concerns from parents over a less family-friendly feel to the area and about existing washrooms and other amenities not being accessible outside of school hours.
The Central Saanich Lions Club, who approached council a year ago with an offer to help fund the skate park, also had qualms over the Stelly’s site and asked council to re-examine the Centennial Park location.
“Four years ago we lost one of our hardest working members in Mr. Bill Eastgate,” said Ed Wignall, chair of the skate park project and member of the Central Saanich Lions. “Our club has a memorial fund to help fund a lasting community project in his memory.”
Eastgate was heavily involved with Centennial Park when he was alive, and the club has been pursuing an upgrade to the park in Eastgate’s memory, including a skate park, said Wignall.
Having already approached the previous council with the idea and receiving verbal support, Wignall came to council at Monday’s meeting “to request that mayor and council reaffirm their support of the project.”
“Anything we can do to put free recreation in the community is good,” said Coun. Carl Jensen. “I think this might be worthy of putting on a priority list for the strategic planning workshop.”
The District of Central Saanich is currently in talks with the school board regarding the Stelly’s site, and after discussion, council agreed to further examine the Lions’ offer to build a skate park at one of the sites in Centennial Park.
For the complete report, visit http://bit.ly/17fxpOJ to see the background materials from the Feb. 16 council meeting.