Vanderhoof’s residents can look forward to more than a new recreation centre and a pool in the near future — a skateboard park is also on the horizon for the community.
Having awarded the project to Vancouver-based Spectrum Skateparks Inc., the district council hosted consultation meetings between the designers and Vanderhoof’s community in October — with a great turnout of skateboarders and parents, said Tom Clement, the district council’s chief administrative officer.
“Skateboard parks have a stigma about them, but the reality is we’ve got a portion of our youth that are really excited about this,” Clement said. “It’s going to be a nice addition to the community.”
With a preliminary design as well as its budget by the end of the year, the new park would accommodate all levels of skaters — with a projected size of 8,000 to 10,000 square feet, Clement said.
He added that though the project’s funding source is unclear at the moment, the district council may look at potential grants, along with fundraising from the Skate Vandy Society.
For Orlanthia Habsburg, the society’s chair, the project is a long time coming.
“I’ve been wanting to get the skateboard park in the community for the last two years,” Habsburg said, when she had moved to Vanderhoof from Fraser Lake and realized what amenity was missing for her son and the skateboarding community — comprised of over 30 committed skateboarders in town, she added.
“We’ve got kids who play football, hockey…basketball, and we have kids that skateboard,” she said. “They just need their own space.”
For the project’s location, Habsburg hopes to have the park built on the empty lots by the district office or the secondary school’s tennis courts — easily accessible from school and the ambulance unit.
“Accidents do happen,” she said. “I’m not trying to say they’ll get hurt or anything, but they do a lot of crazy stuff.”
She added, “Sometimes it’s scary to watch them, and sometimes it’s magical.”
By applying geometry to create angles and jumps, skateboarders are creative, though they might struggle in school, Habsburg said.
“I find [my 12-year-old son] focuses better in school; it’s helping him because he’s happier in his life,” she said. “These kids just need that support from people to realize that’s what making them happy in life.”
As part of what Vanderhoof can uniquely offer, Habsburg aims to have a park that all ages can benefit.
“Even the older people that just want to sit in the park and watch the kids skate, is what we’re wanting to encourage,” she said.
Jim Barnum, president and owner of Spectrum Skateparks, said he is excited to see the support from the community as well as the municipality.
“[The skateboarders] don’t have anywhere to go; they’re skating in the streets,” Barnum said. “Just fantastic to see the support for the youth.”
In the region, the company has also built skateboard parks for Hazelton and Fraser Lake, whose budget had limited the design of their parks, Barnum said.
“They’re talking in the range of budgets that’s going to really allow a proper facility that’s going to reach beginner through advanced skaters,” he said. “There’ll be something for everybody.”
Barnum found Vanderhoof’s skateboarders knowledgable, having many ideas for the future park. They, along with others in the region, are receptive to a new moonscape-shaped design called organic flow, Barnum added.
“Even for people who don’t participate in [skateboarding], the forms are just really cool to look at — an organic kind of sculpture made out of concrete sitting there,” he said. “It’s aesthetically pleasing for anybody.”