By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
The Town of Coaldale is seeking members for a working group which will help give consideration and insight in drafting a proposal to present to town council regarding a revitalization plan for Kinsmen Skate Park.
The working group will review budget considerations, provide insight into potential design elements, and consider layout options for the park prior to bringing a proposal forward to council for consideration.
While there are many sections of the current pathways that are enjoyable for experienced riders, Director of Planning and Community Development for the Town of Coaldale, Spencer Croil, points out that rougher sections with worn pavement can be limiting for beginner riders.
“A focus of the new park would be to ensure that community members new to the sport of skateboarding have features they can learn on and enjoy.”
The purpose of the working group is to create a space for community involvement in the project. Once the group is established and has worked through some of the broader concerns, such as location and potential features, the group will have a more concise vision of what the proposal to council will look like and be able to formulate a project budget. In addition to a potential independent donor, Croil says there is an opportunity for grant funding and community fundraising once an initial project budget is set.
Croil credits the new mountain bike park with beginner-friendly features to an increase in new riders.
“We would intend to bring that focus to the skatepark design as well”.
Local sponsored skateboarder, Tate Hughes, is hopeful at the prospect of a revitalization project and shares, “as a skateboarder, there are some features that are nice about the current skatepark, such as the location, the rails and the quarter pipe”, but notes that there is an opportunity to improve how space is utilized.
“The ground was made using asphalt instead of concrete, this surface will cause much more damage to fall on and has withered over time to the point where only BMX tires can roll over it smoothly,” and notes the design of some of the rails are not conducive to even advanced riders. “The only rail that isn’t going from rough asphalt to grass is far too high for even advanced skateboarders to do their tricks on.”
These under-utilized features impact both new and experienced users and deter many community members from practicing in the park.
The current lack of modern infrastructure has led to skateboarders seeking space to practice their sport outside of the Coaldale community. Croil notes, “some of our local skateboarders have shared that with the modern skateparks available in Lethbridge there isn’t too much interest in riding the Coaldale Park at this point.”
A sentiment echoed by Hughes when asked about community impact and usership. Similarly, Hughes sees the potential project as an opportunity to foster the sport within the community. Rather than athletes traveling to more modern parks with updated features, he says there is an opportunity to foster the sport in a more meaningful way within the community.
“The overall community of Coaldale would benefit. As it stands right now it is very tricky to practice our sport without having to go elsewhere.”
Hughes iterates the importance of fostering community through sport, “Coaldale has this really talented community of skateboarders and helping them achieve their goals would not only bring up moral for the community but be able to keep kids around Coaldale too.”
Although skateboarding has been considered a legitimate sport for decades, it was validated on an international stage for the first time this past August in the 2020 Summer Olympic games. Hughes would like to see the sport honoured through safe and accessible skate infrastructure for community members.
“Who knows maybe one day a kid from Coaldale could be in the Olympics because they had a good skatepark in their hometown to practice [on] and evolve their skills.”
When asked who can get involved Croil says, “there are no qualifications to join. An interested member of the community just needs to be passionate about a community-driven process and if they enjoy skateboarding- that would help as well,” — although this is not a prerequisite.
Those interested in joining this working group are encouraged get involved in the project by contributing to the addition of amenities that enrich the community of Coaldale. submit an expression of interest letter at http://www.letsconnectcoaldale.ca/skate-park. Since the project has not yet been prosed to council, interested community members have an opportunity to have a say in the future of the park. The application deadline to join the working group is Oct. 29, at 5 p.m.