Did everyone enjoy Port Hardy’s multiplex information session on Tuesday?
My dad and I showed up to the meeting to see where the district is currently at with the project (I live streamed the majority of the meeting on the North Island Gazette’s Facebook account for those who couldn’t attend), and I have to say there were a ton of great questions and some solid feedback from the community members who showed up.
There were also a few negative comments here and there about the project, mostly about the referendum and the inherent costs involved, but by and large I felt it was a positive discussion that council seemed very receptive to hear.
The future of the KSM Skatepark was also brought up at the meeting from former skateboard club member Stephen Ralph, who wanted to know why the new skatepark ($390,202) had been cut from the budget.
The answer to that question is council had to keep things under 12.6 million bucks to make sure the project was still a “go”. The park was actually cut from the budget months before the tender bids came in 40 per cent higher than anticipated.
I’ve been covering the KSM Skatepark since I started here at the Gazette back in 2015, and I wasn’t surprised to see the new skatepark get cut from the budget, though council did state it is still apparently penciled in for “phase two” of the multiplex project, which could potentially happen if the district gets enough grant funding in September to actually start building the multiplex.
Interestingly enough, if you look at the architectural designs, the district has been planning to use the KSM Skatepark’s land for their brand new multiplex from the very beginning, with former Mayor Hank Bood telling me personally that the skatepark would have to be “moved” because it’s “really in the way.”
Mayor Dennis Dugas basically confirmed the same thing at the multiplex meeting, that the park will likely have to be moved.
For obvious reasons, there’s certainly no possible way you can move a $20,000 cement pad, so I asked Dennis if he meant just moving the ramps to another location, which he told me was correct.
Where and how the district will move the ramps is another question that I wanted to ask, but I didn’t think anyone from the district would have an answer to it as everything is still up in the air about the project in general.
Regardless, through my years of research on this subject, the bottom line I’ve arrived at is this.
The only reason council was even talking about building a new skatepark in the first place was solely because they wanted to use KSM’s land for the multiplex.
I’ve already explained the logistical/expensive nightmare that moving the park somewhere else would be, so the only other option available was for them to say they would build a new park as a part of the multiplex project, which they stated on Tuesday they don’t actually have the money to do now unless they somehow get more grant funding and/or stakeholders to buy in.
No matter how you slice it, if the multiplex goes ahead, the KSM Skatepark is going to be taken down and the land is either going to be put to use or just beautified due to the swamp that the park is currently built on being a bit of an eyesore.
It’s really sad if you think about it, because a lot of hard work and dedication went into getting a real skatepark built in this town in the first place.
The KSM Skatepark was originally erected in 2003 thanks to over three years of fundraising from the Port Hardy Skateboard Club, $20,000 dollars from the Port Hardy Rotary Club, and donations made from local business owners to help cover the shortfalls.
This project was brought to life by the youth of Port Hardy for the youth of Port Hardy, and now after 17 years it’s looking like it’s going to be taken away from the very people who built it, with no concrete plan to replace their hard work and sacrifice.
I’ve heard some grumblings from people online that the skateboarders should just fundraise for another park by themselves, but that to me is absolutely ridiculous.
They already put their time and effort into making the KSM Skatepark a reality 17 years ago, with no help from the district other than the donation of swamp land, so why should they have to do it all over again?
I get it — life’s not fair, the district is in a tough spot financially — but in this instance, the people who put their blood, sweat, and tears into building the KSM Skatepark are getting the sharp end of the stick, and that doesn’t sit well with me at all.
Tyson Whitney is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised in Port Hardy.
His family has lived in Port Hardy for more than 40 years. He graduated with a degree in writing from Vancouver Island University in 2008.