The answer from the regional district to the city is “No,” money from the airport sale cannot be used to build a skate park in Trail.
Following the city’s purchase of the local airstrip from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) earlier this year, council requested Trail’s portion of the sale be allotted to the proposed Silver City skatepark.
The RDKB board has been in discussion about how to best utilize the funds, said chair Grace McGregor in a letter to Trail council, adding that sale proceeds must be placed in a capital reserve and used for capital projects that benefit the entire region.
Trail’s share of the $1.28 million airport purchase is about 26 per cent or $321,000, Coun. Robert Cacchioni told his fellow members during the June 9 regular meeting.
“The proposal right now is to take that money and use it on something that is going to be a region-wide initiative,” he explained. “Whatever we use it on will function for all 13 RDKB members,” Cacchioni said. “The skateboard park doesn’t meet the criteria because it will be specific to one small area.”
The regional district is currently reviewing its environmental services plans and considering using the airport funds for an organic waste diversion project that would benefit the entire district or putting the money aside in advance of a phase one closure of the McKelvey Creek landfill.
“The board has not identified any specific projects yet, but the two mentioned by Director Cacchioni are clearly in the discussion,” confirmed John MacLean, the regional district’s chief administrative officer (CAO).
Another avenue for skate park funding is through Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), but that direction also recently hit a wall.
In 2012, the City of Trail earmarked over $10,000 to the skate park from CBT’s annual Community Initiatives grant program, however those funds had to be spent within one year, or one year after an approved extension.
“There was an extension to the Skate Park Society and I understand that one of the extensions of time has lapsed,” explained David Perehudoff, Trail’s CAO.
The money is returned to the city as part of next year’s CBT allocation, he continued.
“Council can choose to reallocate the money back into the group, allocate towards a different project or determine not to allocate all of the (CBT) funding until other funding for this project is finally secured.”
News of the RDKB decision is just one more letdown the Trail skate park committee has rolled through this year after approaching city council in February with an appeal for a more reasonable fundraising goal.
Two years ago, Trail council committed to funding one half of the estimated $550,000 cost for the proposed skate park project once the group of volunteers raised the first $275,000.
The struggling but resilient fundraisers asked the city to reduce that lofty goal to $100,000, but the request was declined by Trail council in February.
In March, the whole skate park initiative was put to bed for another year after Trail council bypassed the project in this year’s budget.
“Our committee is getting used to disappointments,” said park fundraiser Patrick Audet. “But the fact is we remain committed to getting the skate park built at our site in the Gulch.”
A good turnout from the community in support of the skate park during May’s Silver City Days gave Audet and fellow fundraisers the bump they needed to keep going.
“We are not going to stop from continuing to push and seek funds to complete our goal,” he said. “The enthusiasm for all roller sports continues to give us the moral support for what we are trying to achieve.”
Elsewhere in the region, the Queen City celebrated the grand opening of the Nelson Outdoor Skate park on May 31.
The 15,000 square-foot facility was completed following a $400,000 grant from the province’s community recreation program in 2011, CBT funds and ongoing community fundraising.