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Still a chance to submit skatepark feedback

Designer accepting responses until March 24



Local skaters still have a chance to make their voices heard regarding the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) skate park rejuvenation project.

Though Spectrum Skateparks designer and project manager Jim Barnum took feedback on his latest design for Phase 3 of the park at a second open house at the Delta Whistler Village Suites on March 12, those who could not attend the meeting are invited to check out the proposals on the RMOW's website. Phase 3 of the park will be built in Rebagliati Park between the existing Phase 2 portion of the park and the Valley Trail.

Throughout the 90-minute meeting, it was clear most boarders were pleased with the general direction of the drawings presented — Barnum explained afterward he had received a fairly clear mandate with how to proceed after the initial public meeting last August. Even though Barnum has been through eight park designs thus far, it'll be back to the drawing board as he incorporates tweaks suggested by the local boarders who packed the standing-room-only meeting in Delta's Raven Room. Barnum explained many of the suggestions, which were made to improve the park's flow, were reasonable and will be considered in the next draft.

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden was among those in attendance, and she said she picked up right away what the project means to participants, with a wide variety of ages represented at the forum.

"There is a lot of passion in the skateboarding community," she said, estimating attendance was pushing triple digits with those coming and going. "There were lots of kids who were asking questions and you don't usually see that at a public open house. I thought that was pretty cool."

The Whistler Skateboard Association (WSA) has stressed it's key for boarders to get involved in the process and they have responded, coming out in droves to the RMOW's budget open house late last month. They hope to send a message to the RMOW council, which will vote on whether to allocate $807,000 to the project.

"They declared that a renovation is long overdue," Wilhelm-Morden said. "The cost of the skatepark, of course, is significant and there were calls for further designs and further monies being expended and council is going to have to make some decisions about that."

Wilhelm-Morden said council will decide whether to fund the project at its April 14 meeting and if approved, the RMOW will put out a request for tender to complete construction by October. Though some at the meeting were concerned about the RMOW scaling back contributions if more outside support is found, Wilhelm-Morden explained it would be unlikely for council to approve an amount other than what has been proposed in the budget.

"We are going to be making some preliminary decisions on this project in the context of the budget," she said. "We will consider the first three readings of the budget at our first meeting in April and included in the budget is the $807,000 for the skatepark. If the budget gets passed in April, then that amount of money has been approved for the skatepark reconstruction."

In particular, WSA president Lenny Rubenovitch was encouraged by what he saw, noting he's glad to see plans for Phase 3 presented, but also hints at a further Phase 4. From here, the WSA's main involvement will be to try to wrangle more financial support for the project, reaching out to organizations like the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, whose executive director Mei McCurdy attended the meeting.

Rubenovitch said from what he's seen and heard from members, the project is on the right track.

"What I heard from the meeting was that the community was receptive to the design and generally stoked on it," he said. "I don't think we need to look at a redesign. We haven't had that much negative feedback."

For more information, visit Barnum has started a thread for feedback in the Whistler Skateboard Association's public Facebook group where those who have not yet submitted a response can do so.

Wilhelm-Morden said based on that feedback, a more detailed design will be posted to the RMOW's website and users will once again have a say.