Skatepark closer to reality

Local skateboard enthusiasts have done everything possible to encourage community leaders to move ahead with an outdoor skatepark, including this downtown rally last spring. Finally they may have something to celebrate. - Andrea Klassen photo
Local skateboard enthusiasts have done everything possible to encourage community leaders to move ahead with an outdoor skatepark, including this downtown rally last spring. Finally they may have something to celebrate.
— image credit: Andrea Klassen photo

By the end of next week, Nelson’s outdoor skatepark could finally have a home.

At its February meeting the Nelson and District Recreation Commission approved a resolution to build the park on the northwest corner of the Nelson and District Community Complex parking lot. The motion will now be up for debate by the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s board of directors, who look at it March 10.

If the board also signs off on the plan, the park will be built by the Kootenay Lake Outdoor Skatepark Society — which will also pay for construction costs, realignment of the parking lot and complex walkway and any civil engineering. Once built, it will be run jointly by the Nelson and District Youth Centre and the NDCC.

Nelson city councillor Deb Kozak, who chairs the rec commission, says she’s “fairly confident” the board “will be fine” with the park, since representatives of the city and the electoral areas the decision will affect have already discussed the park at length and approved the resolution.

The commission spent months on the decision, waiting for a service analysis which looked at the impact of building a park on the site and the cost of running and maintaining it afterwards. Though the report was requested last summer, the February 24 meeting was the first where it was available. But Kozak says finally having all the data in hand gave the commission the push it needed to move the project along.

“I think that was the turning point for people,” she says. “People were saying okay, we’ve got all of the questions we asked answered. The report was very thorough, and staff were supportive of the report as well.”

According to the report, the cost to the RDCK to run the park will be small — Kozak estimates around $1,200 a year — and can be offset by offering skateboarding lessons and other fee-based activities on the site.

But Area E director Ramona Faust, the only commission member to oppose the plan, says she doesn’t think the regional district should be responsible for a Nelson park. Faust says she wanted to see the RDCK-owned site transferred to the city, with Nelson solely responsible for maintaining and paying for the facility.

“I have not had any positive feedback from Area E residents on the location. Still others question why they will incur liability and cost for the maintenance of something they did not vote on and for the most part will not use,” she told the Star in an email.

“For my personal view I believe the RDCK should contribute to programming but does not need to own the facility.”

She also expressed concerns about the cost of building the park at the NDCC. The commission has heard the northwest corner of the parking lot may need some engineering work before it’s able to support a park. The skatepark society will be paying for a study before it begins construction to see what work needs to be done.

Society president Rob Levesque says after waiting so long for approval, he’s having a hard time wrapping his head around the decision.

“I’m kind of numb, we’re all kind of numb,” he says. “We’ve been working at this one thing so long, to have everyone say ‘okay, you can go on to the next step’ is a little bit of a shock.”

With the location almost nailed down, Levesque says he’s looking to recruit fundraising experts to help drum up more than $400,000 to get the park built.

He’s also hoping members of the community will bring that cost down through in-kind donations: “People helping out with labour and materials and all that kind of stuff.”

Levesque is asking those interested in the fundraising campaign to contact him at 250-226-6956, or through the society’s website at

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