Plans for a new skatepark in Pemberton have been put on hold again, as council tries to sort out issues with the designated site.
Annikka Snow and her husband, Jeff Clarke, are the driving force behind the Pemberton Skateboard Society, which they formed about four years ago after realizing their son, Oliver, now 15, and his friends needed a place to board. Snow and Clarke regularly take the kids to neighbouring communities to visit skateparks, but figured Pemberton should have one, too.
“Other small towns have them — smaller towns than ours have them,” Snow said.
They started fundraising, gathering support from organizations like the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, which is holding $25,000 in trust for the society until construction on the park begins.
But finding a site for the skate park has been problematic. Snow says the society was originally given a spot behind the site of the new community centre, but was bumped out of that location by the daycare centre.
“It’s a great thing that we’re getting a community centre — I love it — but it changed things, too.”
For a while, the society didn’t know where the park would go, but were then told they were being given a spot across from the community centre.
“But it hasn’t really happened yet because now there’s issues with B.C. Hydro, and we’re kind of waiting for that,” Snow explained.
“So there’s always some new thing we have to wait for.”
Councillor Kirsten McLeod explained that B.C. Hydro’s power lines are hanging too low over the site, which council plans to use for parking, the skatepark, and possibly a basketball court.
“At first we thought maybe we could just raise the lines and it wouldn’t affect the site plan, but at this point in time they’re telling us… that they can’t just raise the lines, they’re probably going to have to install a new tower, so that’s going to change the whole layout of the site,” said McLeod.
It will cost about $100,000 to fix the problem.
“Obviously that’s something that’s not in our budget,” McLeod said. “Essentially we’re hoping that B.C. Hydro can help us out because it’s our community centre and right now we can’t even basically park cars on there; we can’t do anything.”
Council has written to Richard Neufeld, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, asking for help resolving the problem.
McLeod says council still plans to include the skatepark on the site, but until the power lines are raised, she realizes the society can’t move ahead with plans.
“In order to apply for grants and stuff, (the skateboard society) want us to give them basically an area that they can start planning on, and we can’t really do that until we know the area we’re going to be giving them, and that’s all definitely dependent on B.C. Hydro at this point.”
Snow estimates the park will cost at least $300,000, but isn’t sure because they haven’t designed the park yet. She says the costs could also be lowered by volunteer labour and donated materials.
Snow plans to go to the village next week to talk to them about the recent issues with B.C. Hydro.
But the holdups are making it difficult for the society to move ahead with plans — they can’t design the park until they are positive they are going to be able to use the site.
“…We can’t really go to the government… and ask for grants because we need to have a design, a real design, and to have a real design, you have to know exactly where its going to go.”
The society has been working with Spectrum Sk8park Creations Ltd., a B.C.-based company that specializes in planning, design and construction of skateparks.
“We would like to spend the first part of the winter designing something, and then work on raising funds, but we still need to know for sure that that’s where its going to go, so that’s hopefully going to happen soon.”
McLeod said the delay is also frustrating for council, as the park is valuable to the community.
“It just offers an activity for the youth, and we have a committed group of volunteers who are willing to put their time and energy into helping us achieve that.”
In the meantime, the society has used some of the funds they have raised to construct temporary ramps, which they set up during the last few summers in the hockey rink. They took all the ramps down about a month ago because the hockey rink was removed for the parking lot.
“Now, I don’t think that the parking lot is going to happen this fall because of the BC Hydro issue, so it’s hanging in the air again.