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Squamish opening skatepark Saturday

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It took two years of volunteer work to raise funds and support to build the Squamish Skateboard Park, but for the local community it’s been a dream for a lot longer than that.

This Saturday, Oct. 1, Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland will officially open the Squamish Skateboard Park to the public. He will be joined at the ribbon cutting by a local 6-year-old skater who asked his friends for skatepark donations instead of birthday presents this year, and presented $346 to the Squamish District Council at a meeting a few months ago.

"We first started a committee a few years ago with interested members of the community to see what kind of support we had, and when it was clear that the support was overwhelming, a broader committee was formed to work on the concept, and raise funds and support in the community. This is a real community project," said Bruce Goldsworthy, the Squamish District’s manager of special projects and representative on the skatepark committee.

"I can tell you that the final product is amazing. Everybody that comes and sees it says ‘wow’, even the older skateboarders that have been to a lot of other parks – it’s really that impressive."

The park measures about 14,000 square feet, which is about the same size of the top section of the Whistler skatepark, not including the bowl. The Squamish skatepark also includes a full range of features, including a bowl area and street features like rails, kickers, and ramps. The total cost was approximately $500,000, with the Squamish District providing most of the funding.

The park was designed and built by North Vancouver-based Spectrum Skatepark Creations. Jim Barnum, the lead designer for Spectrum, was also the creator of the 1999 expansion of the Whistler Skatepark, and has been involved in 33 projects around the province and over 40 projects in North America. Their work is showcased at www.spectrum-sk8.com.

Barnum will be present at the grand opening on Saturday, and is bringing a few pro riders with him. Craig Williams, who rides for Rellik and Natural Koncept, was the only pro confirmed at press time, but he won’t be the only one says Barnum. A band will also be playing.

The park itself was a challenge to design – it’s up against a building on one side, and borders on a river. It also had to be raised off the ground because the site is located on a flood plane. Barnum even consulted with local high school students to get their input on the design, and adjusted his plans accordingly.

But while it was a challenge to put together, Barnum believes that the finished product is worth the effort.

"The park itself is awesome. The bottom line is that it came out really well, and I really think it’s one of the best parks of its size in all of Canada," he said.

While the price tag might seem expensive, the use of concrete for the foundations and shotcrete surfaces instead of wooden features ensure that the park will last a long time with minimal upkeep.

Squamish does not have a skateboard club, but Goldsworthy says there is a sizeable number of skateboarders in town and he expects the park will be well used.

"One of the reasons we’ve worked so hard on this is that people are riding the streets for years, and malls, and there was a concern… that they would conflict with pedestrians and traffic as well," he said.

The park will also be open to BMX riders and inline skaters.

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