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HMBA backs new skatepark proposal

Masha Scheele

Hinton’s youth could be taking advantage of a second skatepark in the future, one that proponents say is fully integrated into Hinton’s natural sites and modern in its design.

The Hinton Mountain Bike Association (HMBA) initiated the project and asked New Line Skateparks (NLS) to bring their expertise to Hinton.

“I think it’s a perfect complement to the [skatepark in the valley], they’re two completely different styles,” said Jay Hore, president of HMBA. “It’s a different vibe, different feel, different experience. We’re not taking over, it’s just a compliment is the best word.”

The group told council during a July 9 delegation presentation that they are currently looking at utilizing Erith Park as a potential site for the project.

Erith Park is considered an option because it’s already an established park with washrooms, lights, an outdoor rink, and a big underused field. The thought is that an integrated, modern skatepark could activate that space in the spring, fall and summer.

“The old idea of a skatepark was put it somewhere where it wasn’t going to bother anyone, out of sight, out of mind. Build a slab and give them somewhere to play,” said Everett Tetz, from NLS.

“We found that doesn’t work. In fact, it just gives a place for kids to gather with really little to no adult supervision or leadership.”

The new idea of how to build a skate park is to put it in an active or established space. This is a way for the park to be welcoming to users and non-users alike, and reduces problematic behaviour.

Hinton has some experience with skateparks, as the current one near the recreation centre was built in 2003.

The project was initiated in 2002 by a local skateboard club and the Town was a key partner in the project.

“Skate parks just don’t look the way they used to. Whether it’s the integration of vegetation and landscaping, right down to our use of materials, granite stone, or faux stone with concrete,” said Tetz.

Tetz added that a park built 20 years ago looks very different than a park built today. NLS approaches park designs from a landscape perspective and looks at how they can integrate existing amenities.

The first steps to designing a new skate park for NLS, is the consultation process with the community.

“A park does not get built without thorough consultation with the community, right through from site consultation to design consultation,” said Tetz.

Having HMBA involved in the process will help designers address a big Hinton user group and what they want to see included and integrated in the park.

“We would never come in and just design a park that we would like, it’s through community consultation and really the community designs the park themselves, so they get the park they want,” said Tetz.

NLS would consult the public and introduce what modern skateparks are through meetings, workshops, open houses, and online portals for ongoing feedback. Council would need to support the project in order for HMBA and NLS to establish a potential site to develop.

“Typically, we look for an approval of sites. That could either be a straight approval or that could also be a piece of the community consultation,” said Tetz.

Coun. Trevor Haas asked if there was any potential in developing an enclosed park to be utilized throughout the winter, to which Tetz responded that it could be done successfully through a partnership between a nonprofit and the municipality.

“In terms of sport development, this is where it’s headed. We’re now talking about skateboarding becoming an Olympic sport and our athletes cannot compete because they only skate six months per year,” said Tetz.

After the skatepark is built and operating, the space would be handed over to the Town and placed as one of their park responsibilities.

Tetz added that these parks have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years with very little maintenance.

As it would be built in a space that is already considered a town park, garbage pickup would be a minimal change for the town, he stated.

Grants are available to nonprofits like HMBA for projects like this, and Hore was positive that they could get access to these. For the current skatepark, substantial fundraising, community contributions and grant funding was acquired through the involvement of the club and town support, stated Emily Olsen, Hinton’s communication and strategic advisor. 

CAO Martin Taylor stated that if there is interest in this project, parks and recreation staff would have to meet with development to look at zoning and discuss what steps to take to move this forward.