Repairs are underway at the Kyle Scow Memorial (KSM) skatepark in Port Hardy.
In December of 2015, a proposal was submitted to the Parks and Recreation Committee by Stephen Ralph, who was the driving force for the skatepark being built back in 2003.
Ralph’s proposal asked the committee to investigate updating the skatepark’s out-of-date facilities, specifically pointing out the under-utilized space inside the skatepark and the plastic ramps being too big for beginners.
The proposal also noted how the skatepark lacks in design and doesn’t have the aesthetically pleasing atmosphere you would see in other parks on Vancouver Island, such as Alert Bay’s skatepark, which was built by Spectrum Skateparks for $130,000 and had its grand opening in 2015.
At an April 9 meeting last year, a recommendation to fix the KSM skatepark at a cost of $13,000 came to council’s attention from the Parks and Recreation Committee.
According to Chief Administrative Officer Allison McCarrick, the district cut the skatepark’s budget down to $5,000, deciding to save money by doing the repairs in house, rather than hire an outside contractor.
Director of Operations Abbas Farahbakhsh said the main issues at the skatepark are the areas where the surface material of the ramps “were showing signs of fatigue.”
Parts of the ramps are now in the process of being stripped and replaced with new material, a plastic top has been added to one of the skateboard boxes, and the district crew will be bolting down the handrail to make it safer for people to use.
The district is hoping to have construction finished by sometime next week, said Farahbakhsh, who added the entire skatepark is not closed until then, just the sections currently flagged for repairs.
Coun. Fred Robertson, who is the head of the Parks and Recreation Committee this year, confirmed the district is “committed one way or the other to repairing the skatepark.”
When asked about the future of the KSM skatepark after the minor repairs are finished, Robertson said “it’s still a bit early to try and figure that out,” meaning residents of Port Hardy will have to wait and see what happens with the grant applications for the district’s new pool complex project.
If the district gets the grant money they need to build the new pool, the skatepark will have to be moved to a new location.
Port Hardy Skateboard club member James Fisher said he’s excited to see what happens next.
“After all the skate club’s hard work and patience, I would love to see a nice, fun place to skate with lots of street-style variety for the kids, the town and tourists to use safely.”
Fisher said he is grateful the district has been willing to fix up the skatepark, albeit temporarily.
“I’m glad that our reaching out (to the district) has brought the attention that it needed to be fixed up here and there,” he said. “I can’t wait to try it out, and everyone I have seen and spoken to feels the same way and appreciates this more than ever.”
The KSM Skatepark was originally built in 2003 thanks to over three years of fundraising from the Port Hardy Skateboard Club, the Port Hardy Rotary Club, and donations from local business owners to help cover the shortfalls.
In a previous interview last October, Ralph spoke in-depth about how he and his friends managed to bring the KSM skatepark to life.
Ralph and his friends banded together and made a decision as a group, he said, adding they “formed a club, got a logo, a brand, and started to become friends with the local businesses.”
Once those things were set in place, Ralph said he and his friends went to district council and asked them to help build a skatepark in town. “They were kind of against it, so we had to show them we really wanted a park and we deserved it.”
The group held numerous fundraisers, and even did things like garbage pickups to show they really wanted to make a difference in the community.
“We wanted to show the community we lived in that we cared about the community,” said Ralph.
Town council donated the land for the skatepark, and the Rotary club gave them the money to build the cement pad, which cost $20,000.
Ralph and his friends then applied for funding and had the ramps built, which are still there to this day.
“We held competitions, safety demos, promoted safety on wheels,” Ralph said. “We believed in what we were doing and it helped us out immensely. We really had to show skateboarding could be a positive part of the community, and that’s what we worked towards.”