Updated: Skatepark finale rolls Wednesday as staff advise to build

North Cowichan council could end long-standing debate Wednesday about building a skatepark at the former Chemainus elementary school site. - Andrew Leong file
North Cowichan council could end long-standing debate Wednesday about building a skatepark at the former Chemainus elementary school site.
— image credit: Andrew Leong file

Final debate about building Chemainus' skatepark at the town's old elementary-school site hits council's rails during Wednesday's 1:30 p.m. North Cowichan meeting.

Staff recommends council tender construction bids — based on a design by Mark van der Zalm and Associates, in collaboration with New Line Skate Parks — of the skatepark, as soon as reasonably possible, at the old school site.

Councillor Al Siebring said he's leaning toward supporting the site if neighbours' concerns — spanning noise and crime — are addressed by council.

"There's a recommendation, and almost an assumption, it'll go at the old school," Siebring told the News Leader Pictorial Thursday.

"I like the site, but some people in the neighbourhood have some concerns ... and I think those can be addressed on Wednesday.

"We've already hired a company to design the park, and that's done, and it's (design) based on that site, but it could be transferable to another site."

The Aug. 20 meeting could end years of searching for a park site — for skateboarding and biking — before the old school site was suggested and debated.

Thetis Islander Lynda Poirer's letter to the Leader defends council's agreement in principle to build the skatepark on the school site.

"I have been following the skatepark saga for more than 10 years, and I can assure you council has not blindly supported this location or rammed it through," she writes about "NIMBY" claims the site is wrong.

"There were at least a dozen sites investigated and debated publicly, including the school. "The school location kept coming to the top as the most viable site prompting council to approach (owner) School District 79 on three separate occasions in effort to secure the property.

Poirer is dismayed some folks "fear the park is going to be excessively noisy, messy, inviting nefarious activity which will devalue their properties."

"These are common skatepark myths - if this were true, why are skateparks on the rise in residential areas?

"Skatepark activity is one of the nation's fastest-growing sports, and no longer a "fringe sport," she says.

While some locals want a Fuller Lake site revisited, Poirer notes "the proposed skatepark is small and certainly will not be noisier than the previous school yard playground."

"The crazy thing is these (objecting) people bought property next to a school where buses and cars dropped kids at the school. These kids played on concrete and made noise daily. What's changed?"

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