Skatepark plans in Central Saanich could see change of site

District is working towards a date for an open house to discuss the home of a proposed new skatepark.

The District of Central Saanich is working towards a date for an open house to discuss the home of a proposed new skatepark.

The open house will be held at Centennial Park’s field house to give an opportunity for stakeholders involved to come out and share their thoughts.

Staff are still working on a date at this point.

“We are anticipating the neighbourhood residents will have a chance to share some feedback but also people that, on the flip side … are looking for a skatepark as well to give us some feedback …” said Councillor and member of the skatepark committee, Carl Jensen.

They will also be looking at the current site to see if it’s the proper location identified by staff and endorsed by council.

Staff came forward to council in May 2015 with a recommended site at Centennial Park, and so based on that direction, they were trying to find a specific location there that would have minimal impact to the park, in terms of tree removal and changing the character of the park.

“So this was identified as a potential location that could work mainly because … it’s an area that really would hopefully not change too much of the park in terms of the forest and the trees that are there,” said Jensen.

Jensen said it will be interesting to get some feedback at the open house to see if they should look at other sites. He said some residents felt its proposed location is too far from amenities like the washroom and playground. Jensen added one of the reasons why council is looking at Centennial was for families to play and skate.

Some other concerns he said were around drug paraphernalia near the skatepark.

“I haven’t seen that type of thing,” Jensen said about skateparks he has seen.

There have also been concerns around littering and graffiti as well. He said he isn’t concerned of that happening as long as the skatepark is looked after well.

“I think there’s an ability there if it’s managed well …” he said. “So I think its a case of where we put it but also looking after it in the way that fits the tone … it seems like for some skate parks that have the graffiti, it’s almost like it gets left there and that’s why they do it is because at the end of the day, they like to do it because it sticks around and they leave their mark and its there.”

Another concern from residents he said was potential noise. That might be a question council can look at in terms of other sites within the park.

He said council would then have a challenge with possibly taking down some of the trees to make more room.

“There’s not a lot of other space that’s really readily available in the park that doesn’t impact the soccer fields or the baseball fields …” he said.

From his perspective at this point, Jensen said he doesn’t think (tree removal) was something that was quickly brought up (something that was of concern at last Monday’s council meeting), as it went through public meetings on the location last year.

“Essentially what we’re doing as a committee is looking at potential sites of what we think would be a similar size skatepark of what it could look like, also looking at the cost, but really most importantly looking at the sources of grant funding.”

He said grant funding is a key driver since the beginning.

Jensen said he is hoping the open house will drive their next stance of what’s to come and his sense at this point is the site at Centennial Park will need to be re-evaluated based on the feedback they receive.

“If we look at sites deeper into the park a little bit, then we have the potential (to) alleviate the concerns around potential noise for the neighbouring residents,” he said, adding other sites could have some benefits as well.

Jensen said council is looking for the public’s input and nothing is set in stone.

“At the end of the day, the more people we can get using the park, the better,” Jensen said. “It’s a beautiful facility and it gets a lot of use and if we can get even more use out of it, I think it makes it even more worthwhile, but at the same time, I am sensitive to the neighbours that are close to it and ensuring that we do our best to address their needs as well.”