It took more than a decade, but Nelson’s outdoor skatepark finally became a reality this year.
City council proposed Art Gibbon park in Rosemont after the previous location adjacent to the community complex was deemed too costly. An open house was held in January to view plans drawn up by New Line Skateparks, which had been working with the Kootenay Outdoor Skatepark Society since 2005.
“I came to show support for the effort and help convince people it’s important,” said Jack McKay, 15. “I made a few suggestions, but it looks pretty good.”
He and his peers were frustrated it had taken so long but felt optimistic it would actually happen this time.
“I think it’s something this community needs and it’s an ideal time to see a beautification project that is really going to bring the community together,” said Chris Ingles, chair of Nelson CARES, which operates two nearby apartment complexes.
A few weeks later, cheers broke out after council unanimously approved the location upon reviewing public feedback and discussing concerns around parking, noise, and supervision.
A more detailed design presented in April was enthusiastically received.
“The design looks amazing and I have great faith in [New Line Skateparks’] engineers that it’s going to turn out well,” said Josh Sullivan, 16.
The 15,000 square foot park would be West Kootenay’s biggest and incorporate a plaza, ditch run and bowl, with terrain suitable for beginner, intermediate, and advanced boarders.
The groundbreaking was held in July. “It’s a pretty monumental day,” said the skatepark society’s Chad Hansen, who thanked many sponsors for helping make a “pipe dream” come true. “It’s going to be the best park in the area.”
Three-quarters of the $600,000 project was paid for through a provincial grant the city secured. Other money came from the Columbia Basin Trust and numerous smaller donations collected over the last 10 years.
But there was one last fundraising push: another $20,000 to add some colour to the facility. The Rotary Daybreak club led the way.
By late August, concrete was being poured and a grand opening of October 12 was announced. However, heavy rain left the ground too saturated for crews to complete the project. That didn’t stop about 50 skateboarders from showing up one Sunday to “load test” the new amenity until the city closed it.
The official ribbon cutting will be held in the spring. Hopefully it will be worth the wait.