Residents: yes for skateboard park, mixed feelings for site

The proposed site for Vanderhoof’s skateboard park continues to be a hot community topic last week.

A proposed skateboard park is one of the three capital projects discussed at a community forum hosted by the District of Vanderhoof on April 19 at the Nechako Senior Friendship Centre.

A proposed skateboard park is one of the three capital projects discussed at a community forum hosted by the District of Vanderhoof on April 19 at the Nechako Senior Friendship Centre.

The proposed site for Vanderhoof’s skateboard park continues to be a hot community topic last week.

Over 60 community members attended a community forum hosted by the District of Vanderhoof on April 19 at the Nechako Senior Friendship Centre. Vanderhoof’s proposed skateboard park, Integris Recreation Centre, and the Vanderhoof Aquatic Centre were the three projects presented at the event.

Most attendees congregated by the skateboard park’s information booth to discuss its proposed location and contribute comments.

The playground area in Ferland Park’s southeast corner is the project’s current preferred site, and concerns expressed by residents so far included noise, safety, and age-appropriate sensitivity. “The skateboards’ clacking noise is a concern during the day, for seniors sleeping in or just resting,” said a resident residing in apartments on Victoria Street by Church Avenue, located about one hundred metres from Ferland Park. “We wouldn’t be able to open the window at all.”

On Apr. 6, a petition signed by 35 residents in homes and organizations around Ferland Park was submitted to the District of Vanderhoof against the proposed location.

For Orlanthia Habsburg, chairperson of the Skate Vandy Society, the skateboard park project has been delayed for too long, though she does not want the skateboarders to be known for causing trouble in the community.

“We have preferred locations for sure, and I feel bad that residents in the area weren’t told,” Habsburg said. “If we’re given Ferland park, then we’ll take what we get. The bottom line is we want a skate park…no more delaying.”

It’s a long-time coming project for skateboarder Mark Pye, who was 16 when the community first expressed a desire for a skate park in 1992, he said.

“It got dropped, and then 10 years ago, students wanted one but there was no adult support,” Pye recounted.

For Ajay Audette, 18, Ferland Park is a “legit” location but it’ll be difficult for users to skate after 9 or 10 p.m. “We want a spot that’s out of the way of noise complaints, and but still under the eye of cops in case of accidents or any type of incidents,” Audette said. “So you can hang out and not be worried.

“We just want a park, where we can skate rather than hitting ledges and people will see what skating is about.

“Skating is about being a free person.”

Audette has been skateboarding since he was seven, and the sport helped him recover from his mother’s death when he was 10, he explained.“All we want to do is express ourselves,” Audette said.

For a couple who are “neighbours of Ferland Park”, a skateboard park is needed, but a more-preferred location is by the community’s tennis courts on Stewart Street. “So it’s like a recreation stream,” she said. “Families use the park, but once the families go home, and it’s a different atmosphere. How can you enforce a noise curfew on the street?”

They attended the community forum also for their interest in the Vanderhoof Aquatic Centre. “I can’t wait to dip my toes into the pool,” he said. “I just hope I won’t be too old to use it [when it’s built.]

“There are those who would drive an hour to skateboard, just like others who would travel to Prince George to swim.

“We need both in the community, so we can keep people in Vanderhoof.”