The Kyle Scow Memorial (KSM) Skatepark in Port Hardy is in need of renovation. A proposal was recently submitted to the Port Hardy Parks & Recreation Committee to investigate updating the skatepark’s out of date facilities. The KSM Skatepark was originally built in 2003 thanks to over three years of fundraising from the Port Hardy Skateboard Club, $20,000 dollars from the Rotary Club, and donations from local business owners to help cover the shortfalls.
The park has since seen better days. The plastic boards on the ramps are starting to separate and the transitions have peeled due to years of use and abuse, making it more and more difficult for people to skate the ramps. When asked to comment, Stephen Ralph, who was one the catalysts for the KSM skatepark originally being built, mentioned that the plastic ramps “were what we could afford at the time, but they weren’t the best long term decision.”
At the moment, the space inside the KSM Skatepark is under-utilized, with a minimal number of plastic ramps that are available to skate. The park ultimately lacks in design and doesn’t have the aesthetically pleasing atmosphere you’d see in other parks on the North Island, such as Alert Bay’s skatepark that was built by Spectrum Skateparks and had it’s grand opening in 2015.
The KSM Skatepark’s ramps are also simply too big for beginners to learn on, which in turn forces kids who want to start skating to use the streets of Port Hardy instead. “Skating on the street can be dangerous. There’s traffic, rocks, and people walking around,” said James Fisher, a longtime member of the Port Hardy Skateboard Club, adding that kids skate on the streets here because the ramps at the park “are hard to enjoy. Smaller kids aren’t able to use them.”
The proposal lists numerous reasons that a new skatepark will be beneficial to the Port Hardy community. For example, skateparks offer kids a safe place to learn to skate and socialize with family and friends, they’re a cost effective business venture that requires little maintenance if built correctly, they can be a valid attraction for tourism, the low cost to participation makes the sport accessible for everyone regardless of income, and skateboarding in itself is a healthy outdoor activity for kids, teens and adults who might not want to play team sports. Fisher agreed with the proposal, stating that skateparks “are a great way for parents to spend time with their kids, and they’re enjoyable for everybody to use.”
Skateboarding has been a part of North American culture for over 40 years. As of a 2009 report, there are 11.08 million people who skateboard around the world, and the skateboarding industry has an annual revenue of 4.8 billion dollars. Since the 1970s, skateparks have been built specifically for use by skateboarders, freestyle BMXers, and very recently, scooters.
Currently, there are over 127 skateparks in British Columbia, all providing a safe environment for people to skate and have fun without worrying about traffic, trespassing, or damaging local property. Fisher thinks a new skatepark is a great idea for Port Hardy because skateboarding’s “an affordable, active sport and I know the skatepark would be used a lot more if we had a sick park.”