Mark Savard (standing) and Kate Lines of the Williams Lake Downtown Business Improvement Association discuss a proposed new multi-use skate park Tuesday during city council’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Mark Savard (standing) and Kate Lines of the Williams Lake Downtown Business Improvement Association discuss a proposed new multi-use skate park Tuesday during city council’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

New skate park discussed

A proposed highly-visible multi-use BMX skateboard park next to Kiwanis Park has Williams Lake city council’s support.

Backed by local businesses, a proposed highly-visible multi-use BMX skateboard park next to Kiwanis Park has Williams Lake city council’s support.

That is, with the exception of Mayor Walt Cobb.

The idea for a new skate park emerged this spring after a 14-year-old was robbed at gunpoint of his BMX on Feb. 22, 2016 at 4:35 p.m. in the afternoon at the Nathan Matthews Memorial Skate Park in Boitanio Park.

Grainy video surveillance footage of the robbery that was released the next day by the RCMP drew strong reaction in the community.

“Since, the robbery parents do not feel good about sending their kids there,” local business owner and longtime biking advocate Mark Savard told city council during a presentation about the project at a committee of the whole meeting last Tuesday.

“There has been an outpouring from people wanting to see something positive happen.”

Once the new parking lot for the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex was completed, Savard and the Williams Lake Downtown Business Improvement Area Association began to eye the remaining property between the parking lot and Kiwanis Park, formerly a ball park.

“When the original skate park was created, the idea was to have it out of sight and out of mind and that was a mistake,” Savard said. “If you look at the best 100 skate and BMX parks in Western Canada, they are all tied into a complex. They are very open and near multiple use areas because it drives out negative elements and encourages parents to be there with younger children.”

A skate park in the new location could be easily monitored by the RCMP and the rest of the community, he added.

All six councillors supported the idea of the new park  in principle, and were relieved to hear Savard and the BIA want the present skate park to remain in place as well.

Cobb, however, said he thinks the present skate park can be enhanced by leveling the hillside, upgrading the features and improving its visibility.

He was also adamant that he does not want tots at Kiwanis Park exposed to some of the things he has seen at the existing skate park.

“The stuff that is done at the skate park I am not in favour of having around little children,” Cobb said. “It’s very dangerous and some of the language and activities that go on are not conducive to three, four and five year olds. I would not ever take my grandchildren to Kiwanis Park again if the skate park was there.”

Savard said he respected Cobb’s opinion but did not think the “bad element” would come down and hang out at Kiwanis Park.

The present skate park is located on the path from residential areas to the liquor store, Savard said.

“It’s a problem we can’t fix, it’s broken,” he added. “The existing park is a bit aggressive. This new park is going to be lower and softer and cater to an emerging user group.”

Coun. Laurie Walters said the change of location will change the attitude and she would have no problem taking her five-year-old grandson there.

“It is a growing popular sport and I love the idea that you are captivating the younger generation,” Walters said.

Weighing in, Coun. Scott Nelson supported the location saying it will have the attention of more ears and eyes.

“It’s important to have safe places for our youth to play their sports,” Nelson said. “Not only is it near the recreation complex, but we’ve got a proposal for a seniors residential centre across the street and a tot park adjacent. It’s the perfect catalyst to pull everyone together.”

After the armed robbery in February, mayor and council vowed to increase security at the current skate park and did fund a Boys and Girls Club pop-up park at the location during the summer to establish an adult presence there.

Manager of community safety Dave Dickson said the city met with a possible surveillance camera service provider last week and to date have not heard back.

“Inspector Jeff Pelley will be looking to see if there is any evidentiary value to having the surveillance cameras,” Dickson said. Now that they have the go-ahead from council, Savard and the BIA will develop a detailed plan, then move to the engineering design, and finally, gather financial support from local businesses, residents and grant funding for the estimated $380,000 cost of the project.

After the robbery, Savard received $8,000 in donations from the community toward replacing the stolen BMX.

When a business person donated a bike, the money was put aside to go toward the new skate park.

Lines said the BIA is very excited to have council allot the land beside Kiwanis Park to the new skate park.

“Skateboarding is a healthy activity that is accessible to all socio-economic groups,” she said. “All you need is time and a board.”

Inclusion will be the focus as they go through the funding, planning and building phases of the project, she added.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)
Interior Health notes 80 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

108 people in the region have died from the virus

The Fraser River is seen west of Williams Lake from Doc English Bluff Ecological Reserve. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Tsilhqot’in National Government appeals Gibraltar Mines’ permit to discharge into Fraser River

Permit amendments fail to adequately protect the environment and human health, says TNG

The Horsefly Community Hall will be the site of a mobile vaccine clinic March 19, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Six COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open in Cariboo Chilcotin

100 Mile, Alexis Creek, Big Lake, Horsefly, Williams Lake and Tatla Lake

A Williams Lake area family living on Knife Creek Road lost everything to a house fire on Wednesday, March 3. (Photo submitted)
House fire destroys rural family home south of Williams Lake

The Macdonalds built their home on Knife Creek Road about 30 years ago

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Public input sought for B.C.’s police act review

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complaints about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

Most Read