The design concept for the Smithers Skate Park expansion project. The Smither Skate Park Society expects to break ground next spring. (Newline Skateparks rendering)

Smithers Skate Park expansion gains momentum

Project ready for Phase 2: Detailed design and construction documentation

Four requests to the Town of Smithers by the Smithers Skate Park Society (SSPS) didn’t go exactly how the group wanted, but with the skate park expansion project gaining momentum, they are not too worried about it.

At its special meeting July 28, council revisited a July 14 presentation by the SSPS requesting the updated approval in principle; the release of $24,750 from trust to pay for Phase 2 of the project, technical design and construction documentation; to partner for an upcoming community, culture and recreation infrastructure grant from the province; and approval for the society to present its detailed project plan at the Oct. 13 council meeting.

While council agreed to the first and last items, CAO Alan Harris had reservations about releasing the trust funds because he believes they were donations earmarked for construction, not design.

Council has also not discussed if the Town wants to apply for the infrastructure grant for the skate park or another project, possibly the library/art gallery project for which they were denied a grant earlier this year.

Both of those matters will be back before council at its Aug. 11 regular meeting.

If the trust money can be used for design, Harris said he would have no issue with releasing it.

Jason Krauskopf, who has been a driving force behind the expansion since its inception, said he understands council’s decision and he’s not worried about either of those things.

“The Town’s been awesome to work with and we’re just trying to figure things out,” he said.

If the Town doesn’t release the trust money, Krauskopf said SSPS has access to other cash they can use to complete Phase 2.

And if Council decides to go in a different direction for the community, culture and recreation grant, he said the group is eligible to and will go ahead and apply for that grant on their own, as well as a number of other grants that are coming up.

“It would be nice to have them as a partner, but in their defence they have had this other project on the go for quite a while, I think they’re just trying to figure out how close they are to finishing that project or if they want to help support us on this one,” he said.

He said they are optimistic they will be able to break ground next spring.

The expansion project has been in the works since 2014. Over the intervening years, Boarding for Brandt (B4B) and the SSPS have been fundraising, applying for grants and seeking corporate donations. The organization currently has $58,500 in trust with the Town, $30,000 in trust with the RDBN and $23,000 in the bank.

They have also applied for a grant from Farm Credit Canada’s AgriSpirit Fund ($25,000) and another from the CIBC Children’s Foundation ($75,000).

Recently they received $15,000 from Wetzink’wa Community Forest.

Their fundraising efforts allowed them to commission Newline Skateparks — an international company with offices in Langley, B.C. — to complete Phase 1 of the project, a site analysis, community consultation, concept design and budget at a cost of $19,500.

That analysis estimated the detailed design plan and construction documents at $24,500 and the cost of construction at 820,000.

Krauskopf said after years of muddling along part-time on the dream between running his businesses and other things, he’s really excited to see the momentum that has built up over the last few months, particularly being able to hire someone, Sarah Fitzmaurice, to drive the project forward.

“With having this new blood and especially having Sarah, one person that’s able to focus on this rather than having me try to write a grant in my spare time, it’s just given me a lot of energy knowing that things are working behind the scenes,” he said.

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