Trail resident questions push for skatepark

Trail’s push for a skateboard park has one Trail resident questioning the city’s priorities.

Trail’s push for a skateboard park has one Trail resident questioning the city’s priorities.

Bryan Deferro asked city council why it was even considering the creation of a skate park when it’s not running its existing facilities at full capacity.

“Is it good business to even think about doing a skateboard park for several hundred thousands of dollars when the aquatic centre doesn’t meet the needs of some people?” he asked in council chambers last week.

Deferro pointed to a group of senior advocates approaching the city’s recreation committee in 2010, requesting the pool open up at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays as it currently opens at noon.

The city then could not commit to paying the $23,000 it would cost to stretch the hours back after pool-operating hours were reduced in 2009 with the demise of regional funding for recreation.

“The young people just haven’t had as much say as the seniors and we feel that a skateboard park in the City of Trail is needed,” argued councillor Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson.

But Deferro, who ran for council in last year’s election, continued to drill members on the city’s intentions to build a skate park, which is free to use, while parents are forking over big dough for their kids to play hockey and baseball at city facilities.

Trail administrator David Perehudoff reminded council that the creation of such a park would be a one-time capital cost with a minimal upkeep fee of about $25,000 per year. This doesn’t compare to the annual operating deficit for the Trail Memorial Centre budgeted at just under $945,000, not including maintenance costs.

Trail has applied for a Community Recreation Grant, funding that could support up to 80 per cent of such a project, while the Columbia Youth Community Development Centre seeks additional money out.

The city has not included the park in its budget this year but if it does get the recreation grant, to be announced by the end of March, Trail will likely look at construction next year, according to Perehudoff.

The concrete park proposed at a site across from the Piazza Colombo in the Gulch is estimated to cost about $450,000, not including the work involved in building other elements (a viewing area, green space, washroom facility, children’s playground and pathway connections) included in New Line Skate Parks’ design presented last fall.

Considered an “urban wheel park,” the 8,000-square-foot recreational facility on Rossland Avenue will be open to skateboarders, roller skaters, inline skaters, scooter riders and BMX bike riders to develop their technique.

“If you look at our population – we have an aging population and declining youth,” added councillor Kevin Jolly. “From a sustainability perspective, we have to ensure we have young people coming and staying here and raising their families here and the way you do that is you have attractions that suit young families and that’s not just aquatic and leisure centres.”