Skip to content

District wants skatepark

The District of Sechelt is looking to gain control of the Sechelt skatepark, and Mayor Cam Reid said the District was planning to meet with the school board on Thursday, Oct. 5 to "work out the details.

The District of Sechelt is looking to gain control of the Sechelt skatepark, and Mayor Cam Reid said the District was planning to meet with the school board on Thursday, Oct. 5 to "work out the details."

"We've offered to take over the park and run it. We look forward to the opportunity to work with service clubs and the users to do that," Reid told Coast Reporter Tuesday.

The Sechelt skatepark, which sits below Chatelech Secondary School, has long been in disrepair. Since it sits on school property, the school district has been on the hook to fix and maintain the park over the years.

It was built and opened in 1996 under a joint use agreement between the District of Sechelt, the school district, the Rotary Club of Sechelt and a group of local skateboarders dubbed the Skateboarders of Sechelt (SOS). The District of Sechelt was to "consider assisting in the payment of insurance premiums for the park through grants in aid." The Rotary club, which did considerable fundraising and work to get the park built, were tasked with continuing to assist the SOS as mentors and be responsible for ongoing fundraising as needed. The SOS was to be responsible for usage in the park, special events programming, promotion of the park, dealing with any vandalism and responding to complaints about noise, litter, harassment, bad language and other similar issues. The school district was to allow access to washrooms in the school, supply electricity to the site, provide insurance and maintain the site as part of its overall school operations.

The deal looked good on paper, but soon the SOS disbanded, the Rotary club, with no solid user group to mentor and support, pulled back, the District of Sechelt occasionally gave money to the park when needed to help with vandalism costs, and the school board was left with sole responsibility for the park.

In March 2006, with approximately $30,000 worth of vandalism damage at the skatepark, the school district wrote a letter to the Sunshine Coast Regional District and the District of Sechelt asking for a new maintenance agreement to be created. The letter read, in part: "It was never the intent of the school district to fund the ongoing maintenance and repairs of the facility," and that "skateboarding is not part of our curriculum," noting every dollar spent on the skatepark must come out of funding earmarked for the classroom at some level.

At that time the annual cost of maintaining the park was estimated at about $6,000, not including major vandalism.

"The District of Sechelt then came back with a different proposal to lease the property from us and now we're looking into that," said John Pritchard, secretary treasurer for the school district.

Reid hopes that through gaining control of the skatepark through some sort of lease agreement, the District could work with the Rotary club and current users to get the park back up to standard.

"We think it's an important asset and we would like to involve the community in the park rather than having it where the school board has it strictly and the service clubs and community can't do anything at the park because it's a union issue. We don't want to just contribute money to that. We didn't see that would work well. We thought that the users and Rotary club that had offered to help should become involved and be given that opportunity, so we offered to take it on," Reid said.

Taking on the skatepark would mean doing the repairs needed. Reid said council is prepared to pay for some of those repairs this year.

"I know it's got to be frustrating for the users because it's in bad shape. We budgeted, I think, $16,000 this year for the skateboard park and we want to get at it," he said.

Reid noted there could be a clause written into the lease agreement where if the skatepark were not to be used for that purpose in the future, the property would revert back to the school district.

"So it wouldn't be a case where the District of Sechelt could steal the property 20 years from now or 50 years or whatever," Reid said.

He expected to walk away from the Thursday meeting with superintendent of schools Stewart Hercus with the beginnings of an agreement in place.

"My understanding is that they would like to move forward on this and find a way to turn it over to us to operate, whether that is in the form of a lease or somehow transfer of the property so that we're inheriting the liabilities and responsibilities that go along with that," Reid said.

Hercus was unavailable for comment this week.

Reid told Coast Reporter he was excited at the prospect of gaining ownership of the skatepark adding, "It will happen. It's close."