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Pemberton reaffirms commitment to skate park



The Village of Pemberton reaffirmed its commitment to a skate park in the face of some public opposition at its July 6 meeting.

The meeting hosted a delegation from Nada Shureih and Richard Klinkhamer, two Pemberton residents who have been leading a petition against the village's plans to locate a skate park beneath hydro lines on a property next to the community centre.

Shureih and Klinkhamer spoke as Jeff Clarke and Annika Snow watched from the audience, two members of the Pemberton Skateboard Society who've worked to put the skate park on that property. Shureih explained that she and Klinkhamer aren't trying to work against them but want to see the park in a different location.

"Nothing that we're doing is meant to work against them," she said. "We're not trying to discredit any of your hard work, we know you guys are super dedicated to this project. The whole point of what we're trying to do is work together to make a positive change."

Shureih and Klinkhamer propose to move the skate park to Pioneer Park, located across the street from the Pemberton Hotel and behind the village offices. They believe the park can still be moved and built before March 2011, the deadline by which it has to be built under the conditions of a grant from the federal government.

They're opposed to the park in its current location because they're concerned about the link between cancer and electromagnetic fields (EMF) that surround the hydro lines.

Klinkhamer, who has been voicing his opposition to the skate park location since November of 2009, said the village could perform a test for pre-load at Pioneer Park by digging a hole 10 feet deep and that he knew a "geological engineer" who could tell Pemberton how long it would take to pre-load the park.

Councillor Susie Gimse asked the delegation what kind of a selection process they went through before choosing Pioneer Park. Klinkhamer said there aren't many spots to pick from in Pemberton. He also suggested a site that's "20 kilometres up the Meadows."

Councillor Ted Craddock then asked him how kids would get 20 kilometres up the Meadows. Klinkhamer explained that they would find a way to get there. Craddock shook his head in response.

Gimse then said a skate park could be obtrusive to a residential area but asked whether Klinkhamer had considered its disturbance of a business area or even municipal hall. Interrupting Gimse, Klinkhamer said that municipal employees only work until 5 p.m.

Snow followed the delegation and read out a letter explaining why the skate park should go in the place that's already being pre-loaded. She said that like most Pembertonians, the Pemberton Skateboard Society doesn't like power lines and in an "ideal world" they wouldn't have them in their town. She said nothing was available to the society except for the site next to the community centre.

"Beggars can't be choosers," she wrote.

Pemberton council then passed a recommendation from Administrator Daniel Sailland that they uphold the current site as the location for the skateboard park, but that they also post "appropriate signs" at the park that identified the "relative risks" of using a skateboard park and identify sources where users could obtain more information.

Council also got a letter from Dr. Paul Martiquet, medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health. In it he explained that the benefits of physical activity and creating a "non-obesogenic" environment outweigh the risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields.