Smithers Skate Park Society was granted $462,750, enough for them to finish phase 1 of their expansion project, the federal government shared during a presentation in Prince Rupert on Aug. 23.
Through the government’s Canada Community Revitalization Fund, the skate park is one of eight community infrastructure grants across northwest B.C. to receive its share of the total $2.6 million being invested, announced International Development Minister and Minister responsible for Pacific Economic Development Harjit S. Sajjan, at the presentation to a crowd of more than 50 guests.
“The grant was a game changer for us,” Sarah Fitzmaurice, Smithers Skate Park Society project manager said.
To be eligible for the grant the society had to raise 25 per cent of the total budget, she said.
“And the community did that. It was just incredible, we had $85,000 left to fundraise in February and the community of Smithers did that in two days. It was just humbling.”
The new park will be more than double the size of the current one, which was built more than 20 years ago, she said. At the time the original park was built it was the only one in northern B.C.
For the expansion, the society hired a world-class designer, Fitzmaurice said. The new park will provide three times the capacity of the current one and will be accessible to inline skates, scooters and BMX bikes, as well as skateboards.
The skate park is already a destination for families, she said, with people who are travelling across the country with children stopping to use the park and facilities.
“We think that this new smoother skate park will become that type of attraction for not just locals, but people in surrounding areas and also tourists,” the project manager said. “So we’re really excited. It’s right off the highway.”
If phase 1 stays on schedule it should be finished by Oct. 20, she said.
“All the kids are so excited, they’re hoping we get late snow this year so they’re going to have a chance to skate the street section before the snow flies.”
While this is just the first stage, if the non-profit meets its fundraising goals it should be able to break ground for phase 2 of the expansion next summer, which will involve adding a bowl element to the park.
Then the final step of the expansion, phase 3, is to add things like lighting, accessible seating and a shaded picnic table area to improve the aesthetics of the area.
Fitzmaurice added that the expansion would not have happened without the support of businesses and sponsors in the region.
“So many local companies have donated their time, we would never be able to pull this project off without them donating their time and their materials.”