Skateboarders get input on park upgrade

Okotoks: Design workshop held to hear users' needs

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 04:13 pm

A design workshop was held for local skateboarders to have their say about changes they would like to see made to the town's skatepark.
A design workshop was held for local skateboarders to have their say about changes they would like to see made to the town's skatepark.
JORDAN VERLAGE/OWW

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Okotoks skateboarders had the chance to say what they want to see in a revamped and expanded skate park at the Okotoks Recreation Centre.

Nearly 30 youth from the community skated their way to the Okotoks curling rink on May 29 where a design workshop was held to gather input on what changes they would like to see made to the Okotoks skate park.

The town allocated $200,000 in this year’s budget for improvements to the park, and 15-year old Jace Sthamann said it’s well over due.

“It’s just good that it’s finally legitimately happening,” he said. “It is really old and just outdated and stuff compared to all of the other parks around Alberta.”

Many skate parks in surrounding communities, including Cochrane, Calgary, Airdrie, and Black Diamond were created by Newline Skateparks Inc. The company that has been hired to take over improvements at the Okotoks skate park.

Newline Vice President Trevor Morgan led the presentation, saying riding in skateboard parks are a great way for youth to spend their time.

“It’s art mixed with athleticism,” he said. “You’re adapting to your environment and surroundings. There are so few barriers to participation – you don’t need a coach, there’s no registration fees.”

Morgan said it’s essential the Town stay on top of providing the users with an adequate area to skate.

“If the skate park falls behind, the city becomes the skate park, and that creates conflict between skaters and the rest of the community,” he said.

Although the skaters are the primary users of the park, Morgan said they aim to create a space that can be used by everyone in the town.

“We try to create a space that works for everyone, it’s all about sharing the space,” he said. “We want to continue to build it as a real hub and make it a wonderful place for the community.”

Examples from other parks presented at the meeting showed the possibilities of integrating green space and art into the park, as well as areas for people to just come enjoy the area and admire it.

After a brief presentation, Morgan allowed everyone in attendance to view panels of potential additions or improvements that could be made. They were then encouraged to place blue stickers on the rails and obstacles they would like to see built.

Christa Michailuck, Okotoks open spaces team leader, said a public design consultation wasn’t part of the processes when the park was originally built in 2001, but the Town was determined to get it right this time.

“Basically the users said, ‘this sucks,’” she said. “So, we’ve hired a professional to do some improvements because this time we said we’re doing it the way the users want it. We have a limited budget and we have to make priorities, so let’s get the people who are going to use it to prioritize how we spend that money.”

Travis Geary, 17, was happy that he got a say in what changes are going to be made.

“I thought it was really good, it seems like it should be more up to the skaters,” he said. “We’ve been waiting on it a long time.”

Morgan said it’s important to get input from the youth users, and it is always the first step in their process.

“We want the terrain to respond to what they’re interested in, and secondly it builds ownership and stewardship if we include the youth in the process,” he said. “So, at the end of the day we hope that they’ll self police and take care of the park if they’re really involved in the design.”

An online forum will be open until June 8 for users to give provide input if they were unable to attend the design workshop. From there, Newline will collect the feedback and present the public with different concept designs to choose from on July 3.

The ultimate design selected will determine whether the park will stay open once construction begins this summer on July 3, but it’s hoped the new park will be ready by the fall.

To access the online forum, visit www.newlineskateparks.com, click on the “forum” tab, and register using the password ‘sk8okotoks’.


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