High level skaters drop-in on Ucluelet’s skate park for the annual Salmon Slam. The event is a fundraiser for the skate park expansion project. Ucluelet, B.C. has a population of 1,627. Black Press photo

High level skaters drop-in on Ucluelet’s skate park for the annual Salmon Slam. The event is a fundraiser for the skate park expansion project. Ucluelet, B.C. has a population of 1,627. Black Press photo

Vanderhoof skate park committee aims for construction in 2018

‘The kids want a skate park now’


The secret to a good skate park is “a large enough amount of space then you can design the park in a way that many people can use it at once,” says Vanderhoof born and raised professional skater Shawn Sayles.

Space to move

“When you go up a ramp you need space. You can’t just run into a wall. You need free movement. Features need to be dispersed and you need several lines of travel through the park.”

“If you make a pit with only a few obstacles then everybody’s crashing into each other and people get injured more often, and people get frustrated.

“An ideal skate park that has a combination of what you really find in the street. A pump park or flow park with waves and a volcano shape and a curved bowl, little walls, multilevel, expansive, transitions with different bumps and a hand rail, creative things. These are a lot of the things we look to skate.”

Recreate what’s in the street

“Because the kids are skating in the street, what you are really trying to do is recreate in the park a good part of what the actual skating looks like in the street – so they can go there and skate it and those basic features (curbs, parking blocks) costs almost nothing.”

Water drainage is key

“Building a really good park, especially up in the north, you absolutely have to build drainage under the park. That’s the number one technical feature. If you don’t have drainage, as soon as it rains or snows it fills up with water and it’s unusable. So that’s the number one thing. And that’s expensive.”

Mixed skill levels

“There are a lot of skate parks where they have these spectacular things but the kids can’t skate this in their first 4 or 5 years of skating. Like something that’s four metres high. It’s dangerous. You fall, you get hurt. It’s not for a lot of people. I let my son roll up the wall but I help him because he can’t get up there safely on his own.”

“You need a balance of features with some easy obstacles for people who are learning.”

“A lot of the bigger obstacles cost more money and end up eating the budget. So sometimes you need to balance that and keep it simple. Sometimes the more simple design, the actual money spent can be spent on the larger more complicated obstacles. Local companies can donate some parking blocks or curbs and the local guys can arrange that in the park.

Signature infrastructure for Vanderhoof

“If I had the design in my hand, says Shawn, “I’d try to do something really unique that reflected Vanderhoof right in the middle, put a monument that represents the town like a giant V or a colourful mosaic so that it’s a signature infrastructure of this community. Use it as a chance to brand the community. A lot of these parks can be used to beautify the town.”

Concrete elasticity for winter months

Using a concrete with enough elasticity is important so that it doesn’t crack and break. And a special finish so that the concrete remains smooth through the winter months, so when you fall you slide and its not abrasive and you don’t get hurt.”

DIY saves money

“Be sure an outside construction company doesn’t bill $10,000 for some metal tube that comes out of the ground – when instead you could use a local welder or millwright. Go down to the local steelyard and for $100 get a tube, cut it, weld it, weld an attachment to it and bolt it down. That way it only costs $200. It lasts forever and it doesn’t cost $10,000.”



Fraser Lake with a population of 1,167 has a skate park, Burns Lake with a population of 2,029 has one and Prince George got a second one built in 2016. Vanderhoof with 4,480 residents still does not have a skate park, despite intermittent efforts to get one built for at least the past 15 years.

It was reported recently that Revelstoke, with a population of just over 7,000 people, granted; slightly larger than Vanderhoof but not by much, has solidified plans to construct a second, new skate park in 2018.

Revelstoke gathered $800,000

It took the Revelstoke’s Columbia Valley Skateboard Association (CVSA) seven years to achieve their goal but they were able to raise almost $800,000. They collaborated with several funding partners: $250,000 from the Tourism Infrastructure Fund, $150,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust’s Recreation Infrastructure Program, $125,000 from the Economic Opportunity Fund, $20,000 from the CBT’s Community Initiatives Grants, $10,000 from the Revelstoke Credit Union and $5,000 from the Revelstoke Accommodation Association.

“The city of Revelstoke will be contributing $150,000 and the CVSA raised $82,340 through other fundraising efforts, bringing the total available for the park to $792,340 which doesn’t include any in-kind donations or money the CVSA is still hoping to raise closer to the construction date.”

The reason for including this example is to illustrate how a bigger budget skate park was achieved with contributions from multiple funding partnerships.

Is $350,000 enough?

There is currently approximately $350,000 set aside by the District of Vanderhoof Mayor and Council from a surplus for youth and recreation. Councillor Ken Young admitted that it may not be enough, that the skate park will probably cost more with all factors considered – possibly a washroom, water fountain, and the land cost if it’s not donated. But he wants to stay positive. “We are pretty close to having all the money we need. We could start small.”

If we can’t get any more funding $350,000 might have to be enough. Perhaps the skate park in Fraser Lake is a perfect, and closer to home, example of what can be achieved with a smaller budget. Skaters Shawn Sayles, Lonnie Wiebe and Brenton Funk all said they have enjoyed skating at the Fraser Lake skate park.



Ferland controversy

“We were trying to get people together and choose the location,” said Young, referring to the last burst of energy and controversy on social media where Ferland Park was discussed as one of the possible locations. “The location hadn’t been decided. The suggestion of Ferland Park was just about promoting it and getting people excited. It kinda back-fired and that put a shut down on the discussion.

“The backlash slowed this down because people got too upset and it became controversial. We didn’t want the negativity to shut it down completely.”

“Because we didn’t have the location in place it slid over. Everything else was there, it was ready to go, reports were done, if we could have the location identified we could just do it. But they started sitting, people didn’t get back to us because of the controversy around the one suggestion of Ferland Park.

“I get why people thought we were just going to put it there. That wasn’t the intention. We were not going to do anything until we have a public meeting, with all options presented.”

The District is looking at 5 or 6 locations

There are a number of locations that might be suitable for a skate park in downtown Vanderhoof. “Typically if locations were evaluated on a point system. The highest score is nearest the high school,” says Sayles.

Is noise from a skate park an issue?

“Yes, definitely you can hear it. But it’s quieter than vehicles. It’s no more than people offloading things into the back of their business, or people mowing the lawn,” says Sayles.

It’s about family, about everyone

“I’m around teenagers I get people’s perceptions,” says Councillor Young, “but the vision is for this to be a park for 8 – 80 year olds. It’s about family and about everyone. We need it to be in a location safe from traffic and visible so we can monitor if someone gets hurt.”

Spectrum Skateboard designs

“Jim Barnum out of Vancouver has presented to students here at least twice and there were public meetings about a year ago. We were trying to get the kids involved. He threw out some designs to the kids and got their input. The community support is here. He’s got a report that he’s worked on, but what he needs now, to move forward with the design of the skate park, is the footprint of where it will go.”

One of several options

Ken’s favoured location at the moment is the north east corner of the NVSS property. The area along Victoria street that is a ball diamond right now just east beyond the new playground and the high school parking lot, adjacent to the soccer fields.

“If that is an option we will have to go through a process with the School District first to check for liability issues. And there are questions like where the washrooms would be as there won’t be access into the school building and there’s currently no place to get water. On the up side it is a visible location and there’s a slow school traffic zone there already.”

But there are still other locations to consider and to be presented to the public as well.

Committee will take these challenges and report back

Skate park committee names are: Daniel Martens; Kyle Martens; Brent Funk; Travis Marttinen; Talon Tanninen; Adam Taylor and Matt Woodbeck. “These are the names that I am aware of who volunteered and we have been trying to contact” said Councillor Young. That’s seven community volunteers plus two Councillors Steve Little and Ken Young who are the Council liason sitting on the committee as well.

“There has been a delay but this project has not been set aside. I will make sure that this will happen for kids…it is time!” said Councillor Young.

Kinsmen want to get behind the project

Councillor Young said the Vanderhoof Kinsmen now want to get behind the skate park. Lonnie Wiebe confirmed this saying he and another Kinsmen representative will help set up meetings, on behalf the Kinsmen, with the District of Vanderhoof and the skate park committee. Councillor Young said this is great because it cannot just be Council driven. Council is very supportive but “it needs champions, kids and adults and families to get behind it.”

“Once you bring in service organisations, like the Kinsmen, then those other grants will be there. If there’s more funding partners there is also more respect for the infrastructure.”

Lacking traction. Comes up, falls away

“When we ask people to come forward and they don’t come forward. The calls have gone out and they’re not coming forward. With this last committee we want to be very careful and we want to get it right. The kids want the skate park now.”

But Councillor Ken Young is not discouraged. “I think people need to realise this is as far as it has ever gone and it’s going to make it” said Councillor Young. “Because once you get the dollars in place. Once you have the money, the drive and you have the place” then it’s just a question of when?

“It’s a combination of things – a lot of our focus has been on the pool. I think we’ve stretched our staff a little thin in between all those new projects. We’re pretty small. It’s been so much all at once. But it’s time now.”

“In my mind we’re going to get it identified this fall and in the spring its going to get started. That’s my goal. I believe we have 3/4 of the money to really get started. We thought we were going to build this spring but because of the kerfuffle and people stepped away and the pool, water tower, paving, lots of projects. Our small staff are going flat out.”

Stressed, frustrated

“Everybody is stressed when the topic of the skate park comes up. I think we can change the perception around this.”

“I’m frustrated too because this is not a new push at this. My youngest boy who wanted to be doing this is in grade 9 now next year he’ll be grade 10. I thought he’d be skating it when he’s 4.”

What’s holding it up? The location

“We’re struggling with the location. We didn’t anticipate it to be such a big concern.

“People are waiting to hear the location and hear that it is going forward and then people will be on side.”

Committee next steps

When the Omineca Express contacted Councillor Steve Little for a comment he said: “At this point there’s nothing to update. It’s up to the rest of the committee and until that has been firmed up there’s nothing to report.”

Although the committee will have to confirm, all indications from Councillor Ken Young point to the following


1. Council have identified a skate park committee – summer 2017

2. Committee meetings with council and stakeholders, and review the report from Jim Barnum – fall 2017

3. Committee will present location options in a public meeting – winter 2017/2018

4. Committee will identify location, design and final budget – winter 2017/2018

5. Skate park construction – spring 2018

6. Skate park grand opening – summer 2018!

Let’s harness positive energy

“This is the first time I’ve been part of a council where the majority want to move forward with the skate park.”

“We slowed down but now we want to gather up and harness the positive energy.”

“This town is not dormant. If some things are not getting done it’s because other things are getting done.”

“I truly believe it is going ahead.”

Symbolic, focal point

“What I would like to do is build something that we are proud of, that is good to look at, artistic and with areas that can evolve. We don’t want a generic park. We are actually hoping to incorporate the sturgeon what represents the community.”

“It could really be a focal point for the community. We want it to be something people are proud of, nice shrubbery around it, really visible and beautiful and entertaining, the youth, little kids, the families, it would be so vibrant.”


Max Melvin-McNutt, advanced division skater, performs a blunt fakie during the Canada Day Skate Comp in Riverdale on July 2. Black Press photo

Max Melvin-McNutt, advanced division skater, performs a blunt fakie during the Canada Day Skate Comp in Riverdale on July 2. Black Press photo

Kids head to Salmon Arm skate park after school to try out some tricks. Photo Black Press

Kids head to Salmon Arm skate park after school to try out some tricks. Photo Black Press

Shawn Sayles and his son Hendrik.                                Photo Fiona Maureen

Shawn Sayles and his son Hendrik. Photo Fiona Maureen

Village of Fraser Lake skate park.                                Photo Fiona Maureen

Village of Fraser Lake skate park. Photo Fiona Maureen

Burns Lake skate park. Black Press photo

Burns Lake skate park. Black Press photo

Arist rendering of Revelstoke’s new skate park design. Image Black Press files

Arist rendering of Revelstoke’s new skate park design. Image Black Press files