Letter: The notorious skateboard park

I remember when I voted for our present council. Something has changed in their pursuit of building the skateboard park in Ferland Park.

I remember when I voted for our present council.  I did so because of their track record of integrity, hard work, thoughtful and community minded motivation which often involved people of the community, their ideas and opinions and the betterment and moving forward of Vanderhoof.

Something has changed in their pursuit of building the skateboard park in Ferland Park.

The plans for the ground work and installation into Ferland Park are purported to be complete! Really? Council hasn’t voted on the project yet! Why the secrecy and push?  If it wasn’t for a single individual’s fortitude and disclosure (to whom we owe a debt of gratitude), no one would have known anything until it was a ‘done deal.’  How can it be that council and the committee can so audaciously say verbally and in print that the Ferland Park location is a ‘done deal’?  They haven’t even voted on it yet! This is starting to get the flavour and aroma of American politics at election time, but this is not American politics and you are not all that!  I hope I don’t get you too riled up but this is our open, close and safe community, Vanderhoof, B.C., Canada.  A community forged and earned with the blood, loss, sweat, tears and prayers of OVER 90 years of which many of our family members, mine included, are the founding pioneers.

Ferland Park borders a well-established and quiet, safe and family neighbourhood.  This and the property values in all probability would be seriously and negatively impacted.  Not to mention the neighbouring ‘safe home’ would be mere meters away from the skate park.  I wonder if council can visualize the number of calls to the 911 service, local police and even themselves this could generate far into the future?

Ferland Park is a family and children’s park, a park well used by many members of our community young and old.  From the donated spray park for the children to the swing sets, slide adjacent the bathrooms to the grass to play and run around on, picnic tables, walk ways and other amenities.  I often find myself looking off my mom’s back deck enjoying the ‘out in the wilderness’ feel of the park, while other people are enjoying the shade provided by its majestic trees.  It’s as though the park were speaking to you…beckoning, inviting us to a centralized oasis where we can pop in from our busy day – on a lunch break or a few minute escape to wrap our hands around a mug of peace of mind.  Or to spend an afternoon on the grass with your back against a tree just experiencing the tranquility and the innocent joy in a child’s laughter.

I understand that one of the main reasons for selecting Ferland Park was because of concerns and a need for ‘extra’ policing of the skate park!  Really?  You want to put an acknowledged  and anticipated ‘extra’ risk like that into a children’s park?  What about these concerns of criminal activity, violence, drugs and the language used that the children would be subjected to?  This is not acceptable!  Why does this need to be said to you?

I understand that on Oct. 7, 2015 when Jim Barmum of Spectrum Skate Parks Inc. was hired and came here doing a study, that he came up with seven possible locations for this skate park. Riverside Park being out of the question due to flooding. Ferland Park was referred to by him as our “community jewel of a park” and he suggested a significant public backlash against it located there.  I suggest he understated that backlash.  I guess you didn’t pick up on the ‘hint’ he suggested for you in that comment.  The skate park would need approximately 10,000 square feet of topography including the removal of some of the parks majestic and much loved trees.  Jim’s best location was by the tennis courts and there were at least two additional ‘better’ locations than Ferland Park.  I am sure these other locations, away from residential areas could be policed just as well as our police force and our volunteers are not restricted to policing solely from within the confines of the police station itself.

There was a neighbourhood petition circulated, signed and accepted by council but only as one vote.  There are 35 names on it.  I understand there may be a community petition started as more people are hearing about this, now that it is out in the open, and more and more people are becoming enraged about the manner in which it was being forced upon us.  Also because our ‘jewel of a park’ is at risk.  It is a real bad idea.  I would encourage everyone to phone council and let them know how you feel.  I’m sure the district office would be more than happy to give you the right numbers and methods of contacting them, their number is (250) 567 4711. I believe they may be able to answer your questions as well.

Some of us living in this community are starting to get the idea that maybe some of the councillors are sporting a larger hat size than when they were voted into their position of public service.  That perhaps somewhere between the swearing in and a little time served that some may have forgotten the words to the oath that they swore.  This phenomena is sometimes prevalent in the work place or military for example, as some are promoted beyond their maturity level or in the school yard, in spite of all the pink shirts being worn.

I must add that it is more than merely our self esteem that is being threatened here.  Our intelligence and our communities children’s well being is being undermined and we don’t like or appreciate being bullied.  In the school yard we take care of that by staying away from the bullies and reporting them to the teacher.  In politics, even in a small town, we do it with our vote.

I strongly encourage the skate park committee members and council to reconsider this bad bad direction of thinking and consider a better location and the well being and will of our community.  Hats off to any councillors that take the audacious and bold position of voting the correct way for our community’s betterment.

 

Sincerely, a concerned community resident and business member,

Mitch Brain