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Designs for new skatepark almost complete

Local skateboarding enthusiasts huddled around proposed designs for a new skatepark in Gibsons during an open house at Elphinstone Secondary School on Jan. 29.

Local skateboarding enthusiasts huddled around proposed designs for a new skatepark in Gibsons during an open house at Elphinstone Secondary School on Jan. 29. Kyle Dion of New Line Skateparks and Mark van der Zalm of van der Zalm and Associates were selected by the Town of Gibsons in 2003 to establish a design for the park. They held their first open house in October to receive initial input from the community and were back in Gibsons last week to reveal more detailed drawings. Brothers Park is being viewed as an ideal location for the new skatepark because of its existing skate bowl and infrastructure. Van der Zalm said he has looked at the site and sees a lot of potential.

"It makes sense to put it there," van der Zalm said. "It's a whole recreation facility with a sports field. It's a hub of activity."Dion said replacing the old bowl at Brothers Park will allow for a park that incorporates all levels of skill, providing skaters with an opportunity to grow and improve. The urban trend is street parks like those built in youth parks in Abbotsford or Victoria, which incorporate steps, slopes, rails and multiple levels that aid skaters in their ability to perform trick moves and jumps, he added.

"Because this layout appeals to urban youth, over 80 per cent of skateboarders are street skaters, " Dion said. "The street park configuration is built largely with concrete slabs, allowing a larger facility to be built more easily and economically."The skatepark is expected to comprise about 12,000 square feet and be completed within the budgeted $200,000. When completed, the facility will be suitable for local competitions. The Town of Gibsons has set aside $50,000 in its 2004 budget for the construction. Municipal planner Chris Marshall said the rest of the money will need to come from the community in the form of donations.

"There will need to be some active fund-raising," Marshall said. "Once we see the final concept with an exact budget, we will consider making promotional brochures to help with the fund-raising. When we know what materials are needed for the construction, we might approach businesses such as gravel companies for donations as well."

Dion anticipates that the final designs for the skatepark will be completed in the next couple of months. According to Marshall, once the Town of Gibsons receives the detailed construction design, it will go right to tender.

"The construction design will specify exactly how much material will be needed, so we and the contractors can prepare a realistic budget."

Gibsons Mayor Barry Janyk said the proposed skatepark has been a special project for him for the past three years, adding that Town of Gibsons administrator Bill Beamish was also an advocate for the project. "We've recognized for a long time that the bowl at Brothers Park is substandard," Janyk said. "We will be looking to neighbouring communities for assistance in our fund-raising efforts because they will be using the park as well. The town will lead the way and start things off."

Marshall said the purpose of last week's open house was to obtain feedback from the skaters. Avid skateboarder Wesley Sluis, a Grade 7 student at Gibsons Elementary School, said the new designs are cool.

"I'm out at the Brothers Park bowl every couple of days in the summer," Sluis said. "I'll be out there more often if the new park comes."

Graham Hartley, owner of Graveyard Skates in Gibsons, also attended the meeting and said there is a need for a new skatepark in Gibsons. He believes the population of skateboarders is growing, which is resulting in overcrowded parks. "Sometimes there is not enough room," Hartley said. "That could be a dangerous situation."

Hartley said his first year of business has been excellent, adding that a new skatepark will help increase the popularity of the sport. "I think a lot of kids will hang around the park and watch the skaters," Hartley said. "Hopefully they will see how fun it is."

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