Streetstyle skatepark needs ‘shotcrete’ specialists Municipality committed to finishing project By Paul Andrew In Whistler, world-class goes a long way, even when dealing with something as common as skateboarding. If the mountains, parks and mountain bike trails can be considered first rate, why shouldn’t the new streetstyle skate park receive the same consideration? This is a question the municipality plans to deal with in the next five to 10 days, when it receives bids in response to its request for proposal (RFP) on the concrete work required for the unusual park. Pouring concrete on a flat, level surface, such as for building foundations, is relatively simple compared to the streetstyle skatepark, which will have concrete vertical ramps, compound curves and other obscure angles. Last year, when the new park was conceived, planners had no idea what they were in for. Now, the municipality has decided to invite specialists in the concrete industry to bid on the work, to make sure the Whistler park doesn’t end up like some in the Lower Mainland. "As we got close to the pouring stage, we realized this was very specialized work," said Keith Bennett, manager of parks operations. "We have to deal with unique circumstances, like freeze/thaw, a smooth surface and point-loading. That’s when skaters will drop four-feet onto the concrete and their wheel will make contact with only a half-inch area. It’s a tremendous impact." Bennett is hoping a satisfactory proposal can be obtained by June 11, and the work can start the week of June 14. Ideally, the municipality would like the park to be skate-able by July 1. "It’s shotcrete. So the mix is different from average concrete. It has to be," Bennett explained. "You may have seen those guys spraying the stuff upside down underneath a bridge in the middle of the winter. So it’s certainly not your average concrete." Bill Barrett, director of parks and recreation for the RMOW, said the financing for the park has been in place since it was approved last summer. "The budget is there, they just need the right person for it," Barratt said. "You just can’t get anybody to do it. I was involved in the skatebowls and they’ve held up well, but nowadays the streetstyle skateparks are complicated and we want to make sure this one will last a long time." Much of the work to date on the skate park has been done by volunteers. Once the park next to Fitzsimmons Creek is completed, this being phase one with a second phase to be added later, the skatebowls will connect with the streetstyle skate park, creating a variety of surfaces large enough to accommodate many skateboarders at the same time. The hope is the park will pull the skaters off the village strolls and sidewalks so they have a place to play, and don’t annoy pedestrians and traffic. "We’re not the first municipality in B.C. to use unconventional concrete pouring techniques," Bennett explained, "but I believe we are the first to look this deep into the special concrete needed for the job. "Plus, the contractor who finally gets the job will have to agree to incorporate the volunteers into their plan because they’ve been there since the start. And Jim Barnum is still the skatepark co-ordinator. So he’s on staff with the muni when the work is proceeding on the site."