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Battle is on for Pemberton skatepark



The Pemberton Skateboard Society will have something on the ground by the end of the summer, but exactly what will depend on the level of financial support they can leverage over the next few months.

At a recent council meeting the Village of Pemberton awarded the Pemberton Skateboard Society a $10,000 grant, which was then matched by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and the Pemberton Recreation Commission. Combined with past fundraising and grants the society now has a total of around $35,000 in seed money - about one-tenth of what they estimate it will cost.

However, the society has also been approved for matching grants from the province and federal government through infrastructure programs that are only going to be available through the end of the summer.

With those matching funds the society would have roughly $105,000 to start construction on the park tomorrow, but with an estimated price tag of $360,000 for the park they will need to more than triple their own funds.

"The provincial and federal government will each grant us up to $120,000 in matching funds... based on our cost estimate of around $360,000," said Chris Addario of the skateboard society. "If we raise $100,000 we can get $200,000 from them, or $100,000 from each, but we're obviously going for the full amount so we can have all the features we want."

With each dollar raised for the park worth three dollars, the society is kicking their fundraising efforts into overtime. Some of the efforts underway include a bottle drive, a fashion show at the Big Sky Golf Course on April 10 and a poker night at the Pemberton Legion on April 24. And that's just the beginning.

"There are various donor groups in the area we're making applications to, and we're also working on all fronts to have local fundraisers that get the community involved and get the awareness out there," said Addario.

The first step of construction is get the site - adjacent to the new recreation centre and pump track on Portage Road - backfilled and preloaded, and work got underway on Tuesday. Once the preload has settled the construction can get underway.

The clock is ticking. The society will need to have most or all of its funding in place before construction can get underway, and the project has to be underway by fall for the work to be completed by the start of next winter when the provincial and federal grants expire.

If the society cannot raise the entire $120,000 required they will go ahead with whatever funding they can raise between now and the summer, then continue to raise money in the future to add to the park. But the opportunity to obtain matching funds through provincial and federal infrastructure grants may not come up again, says Addario.