Andy Dobson couldn’t help but feel disappointed the first time he walked into the Nelson and District Youth Centre.
The Scotland native had built skate parks all over the world and knew Nelson had a reputation for talented skaters. But when he relocated to the city, the dark and dreary youth centre park he found was a let down.
“I walked in here expecting to see something and could not believe there was not really a facility here,” said Dobson.
But Dobson, who owns Folk Custom Skateboards, saw the potential in the space. On Tuesday, the youth centre unveiled its new skate park designed by Dobson as well as a bouldering wall following a five-week renovation to the facility.
Jordan Martin, the youth centre’s manager, said it’s the largest indoor skatepark in B.C. “It’s something to be really proud of,” she said.
The overhaul of the 22-year-old youth centre was made possible by a $17,400 grant from Columbia Basin Trust and a $4,000 donation from Pow Gals as well as material donations and volunteer efforts from Home Hardware, Nelson Ready-Mix, North Mountain Construction and High Five Maintenance.
Whereas the old park was thin on features like ramps and had bare areas with nothing more than a concrete floor to ride on, the reno has completely filled in the space with a park designed for beginner and advanced skaters of all ages.
“It’s great for learning to skate and it’s designed so you can learn something on this then take it the bigger ramp. It’s all about progression,” said Dobson.
Martin said the renos are accompanied by an increase in programming she says will offer something for everyone.
“All under one roof you can boulder, skate, scooter, BMX, play air hockey, basketball, floor hockey, read, create some tech products. It’s really a one-stop shop and it’s just going to make the lives of our kids so much better.”
The new park and bouldering wall are already available to users, but a grand opening is also planned for Sept. 7.
Dobson said he hopes the youth centre becomes central to the local skateboarding community.
“All around the Kootenays is a super strong scene, and I think there should be more things going on in the Kootenays, and this could be a central hub for it. This place could just grow and grow and grow.”