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Indoor skatepark ready to build

Construction to start next week; skaters asked to help police lot



If all goes well at the fundraisers on Saturday and Monday, construction could begin on Whistler’s newest skateboard park early next week.

"Fundraiser Monday, construction starts on Tuesday morning," said John "Wishbone" Henry, co-owner of the Southside Board Co. and one of the organizers of the skate park and fundraisers.

The first organizer, on Saturday, is a skate jam at the site of the park, which will be located across 27 parking stalls on the P3 level of the Franz’s Trail parking. The jam will take place on Sunday, Feb. 27 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. with prizes, live music and a discussion of the skate park. There will be contests for the highest ollie, best trick and most consistent skater, as well as a slalom course, sessions on rails and boxes, and $2 games of SK8 Horse.

More than a dozen sponsors have donated prizes, including Westbeach, Katmandu, Evolution, Circle, Gnarcore, Skids, Punk Ass Canucks, Gathering Collective, Moguls, Stunt Wax, Nomis Design, Girl, Chocolate, DVS, Lakai, Independent, Momentum, and Silicon Mountain Printing.

"It’s something to bring the community together, and get excited about the project," said Henry. "This contest is open to all ages, we really want to see the younger kids come out with their parents, and check out the space.

"Hopefully we’ll be adding one more attraction to Creekside. It’s already a good little hub, with Franz’s Trail, but it will be neat to have a park that’s indoors, out of the rain and cold, and is open until midnight every night 365 days of the year."

The cost to watch or take part in the jam is $4 per person, with all proceeds going towards the park.

The second fundraiser takes place Monday night at Dusty’s, featuring The Minions, The Fall of Summer and DJ’s Vinyl Ritchie and Ace. Admission is $5, and there will be other fundraising activities.

Henry estimates that the park will cost $5,000, and will feature several small street features and a dog-leg quarterpipe between three and four feet tall. Volunteers are building most of the features, although a professional will be building the quarterpipe using Skatelite, a quieter, smoother and stronger material than masonite.

He also estimates that up to 50 people will use the park on any given night. The park will be open to everybody, and will be monitored by security. The boarders will also be asked to police themselves and each other. "There will be some security, but it will really be up to us to control and police our own environment. If it goes bad, we all lose – the ramps will only stay as long as we take care of them."

The parking lot at Franz’s Trail has seen a lot of unconventional uses since it was first built. On one drive through scouting locations, Henry says they passed a hockey game, runners, and remote control car enthusiasts. There has also been some vandalism and graffiti reported within the 1,400 stall lot.

Whistler-Blackcomb, realizing that skateboarders were inevitable, agreed to give the park a chance in the hope that skaters would take some ownership and responsibility.

"I would say it’s recognizing the reality," said Doug Foseth, senior vice president of operations for Whistler-Blackcomb. "When you have a dry, hard, concrete area skateboarders are going to gravitate toward it and it becomes a question of how to deal with it.

"You have two choices – you can do it like most people and say don’t come in here, and if you come in we’ll throw you out. We took a little different approach, we’ve been proactive, and we hope it will turn into a relationship that’s positive not only for us but for all the young people who use it."

Before giving the skate park the thumb’s up, Whistler-Blackcomb consulted with all of the stakeholders in Franz’s Trail and in the area, and nobody objected to allowing skaters to use the space.

In exchange for the space, Forseth hopes that the skaters will help to police the lot. "We’ve had some vandalism down there, it’s expensive, it’s disruptive. We hope that by giving (skaters) an area down there they will sort of chase away anybody who is up to no good, and tell them ‘we don’t want you here.’"

The park is a good incentive for skaters to be on their best behaviour – if vandalism continues or gets worse in lots, then they could lose the privilege, says Henry. "I think there’s a real need for this in Whistler, a year-round park like this, and nobody is going to want to lose that."