Lenny Rubenovitch of the Whistler Skateboard Association has about $15,000 to $20,000 worth of skateboard park to find a new home for once the Creekside skatepark closes for good at the end of August.
The park, which was built in the Franz’s Trail parking garage four years ago, was slated to close in November to free up those parking spaces for Whistler-Blackcomb but the association reached a decision with the company to vacate the space early. Keeping the area clean and supervising hours of operation became too costly for Whistler-Blackcomb and volunteers from the skate community. Given that the park was already slated to be removed, Rubenovitch says it was the best decision.
“It’s just a little earlier than we planned,” he said. “The mountain goes to a lot of expense to manage the park and do things like the trash removal, and with fewer staff in the summer and more demand for those parking spaces they decided they needed to close it.
“It’s a bit sad, but we’re all about looking towards the future and finding a more logical permanent location for the park, and Whistler-Blackcomb is a strong supporter. It’s been an awesome four years, and it was a major growth opportunity for skateboarding in the community. It was never meant to be a permanent facility.”
The search for a new indoor skateboard facility has so far stalled. Some of the ideas the association is currently exploring include the Air Dome at Base II, which they would share with mountain bikers, and possibly setting up some kind of tent during the winter at the existing skatepark. They’ve already ruled out renting out warehouse space in Function Junction because of the costs.
Rubenovitch says they are also looking at the possibility of creating several small neighbourhood parks around Whistler instead of a single park, some of which could be covered.
The skaters were allowed to build the park in 2005 in exchange for policing the underground parking garage and protecting it from vandalism. The relationship has had its ups and downs, and as a result the park is no longer open around the clock after skateboarders trashed the area and urinated in a public stairwell.
On the plus side, the skatepark has provided free recreation to thousands of youth over the years, and hosted a handful of events. Most recently the park was featured at GromFest, a youth competition featuring some of the top riders from around the northwest.
Taking down the park’s ramps and bowl is a major job, and Rubenovitch will be looking for volunteers to pitch in — something he admits will be difficult.
“I don’t know how many volunteers we’ll get to tear down a skatepark, but I’m asking people to think in the long term,” he said. “Skaters have to realize that, yeah, it sucks but it’s all for the good to work with the mountains that have contributed money to the park and the association, and supported us over the years. We want to walk away on a positive note.”
If you’re interested in volunteering or have any questions, Rubenovitch invites people to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteer dates will be announced as the final closing day, Aug. 31, comes closer.