Proposal to move West Kelowna's skatepark for new city hall ticks off skateboarders | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Proposal to move West Kelowna's skatepark for new city hall ticks off skateboarders

A skateboarder at the West Kelowna skatepark in 2017.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Westside Skatepark Society
February 09, 2021 - 5:07 PM

Skateboarders in West Kelowna weren't impressed to learn that their five-year-old skatepark might be relocated to make way for the new city hall.

The City wants to relocate the existing skate park next to Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre to a 1.2 acre parcel of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve next to the former Westbank settling pond if approved by the Agricultural Land Commission, according to the proposal.

The park was built in part with a Canada 150 grant which covered half of the roughly $430,000 total cost. It opened in 2016.

“Locating the skate park in close proximity to its existing location and the other identified uses will ensure it continues to be well utilized by the community,” writes Paul Gipps, chief administrative officer, in an application to the Agricultural Land Commission.

A map of where the proposed West Kelowna skatepark will be relocated.
A map of where the proposed West Kelowna skatepark will be relocated.
Image Credit: City of West Kelowna

Mason Barzilay, with the Westside Skatepark Society, was one of the community skaters who lobbied for the initial construction of the skatepark and helped create the vision for it.

“I do feel like (it's) a bit of a waste of funds to destroy something that they’ve already spent so much effort building and I don’t believe that’s the best interest of our community,” she said.

There’s also the question of it will even get the approval to move, she said.

Councillor Doug Findlater brought the question up during a council meeting today, Feb. 9.

“Plan B would be back to council and talking about what land options we have readily available. I’m not prepared to discuss that openly… our goal and council desires last time we talked was there would be no interruption in the service to the skate park as a result of the construction of city hall and that’s the premise we’re moving forward on,” Gibbs said in response to Findlater.

Mayor Gord Milsom said council is committed to finding a new home for the skatepark and pointed out the city hall's construction won’t start for another two years.

The cost associated with moving the park is cheaper than compared to the cost of having to go out and buy land for the new city hall, Milsom said.

“I would expect that it would cost $2 to 3 million to buy land for the city hall but since we own that land, we don’t have that expenditure,” he said.

Anna Zeitner, founder of the Kelowna Skateboard Association, said the current skatepark took community support to get it built, but the common consensus from Okanagan skateboarders has been “what the heck?” on the current proposed move of the park.

There needs to be more discussion, she said.

“There might be more shade where it’s going in, but at the same time… will we want to be even skating there with a settling pond near it?” Zeitner said.

“There’s just lots of questions right now and lots of concerns, but that’s to be expected with a new proposal and project," she said. "My hope from the skate community is that we’ll be consulted, our voices will be heard and we’ll come to an agreeable decision on the new relocation of it."

The current skateboard park will stay open until the new one is built and the cost of the park's move is included in the new city hall project costs, according to City documents.

The City expects preliminary design consultations, which include the new skatepark, will begin in spring 2021.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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