Community support keeps skatepark expansion moving forward

Many local companies and donors are already on board.

Across the country, in most towns the size of Smithers the sporting community seems to be headed up by hockey enthusiasts. Any fundraising efforts seem to be destined to improving access to ice surfaces and improving the local experience of the national pastime.

Smithers, with its wide range of sporting interests, seems to be more than a little different. Outdoor activities such as cross country skiing and mountain bike riding are popular and are among the assortment of endeavours that have enthusiastic supporters who work towards improving access and capability.

Without knowing some of the individuals involved, you would not understand the passion and drive that exists for these athletic activities and the underlying reasons for that passion.

Meet Jason Krauskopf, local sporting goods business owner and skateboard enthusiast.

Over the years, he has been interested in making sure that there is an adequate skateboard facility. As his two sons have grown, they have also become interested in skateboarding and snowboarding.

At the current time,

Krauskopf is a very busy merchant who is developing a unique business plan. However, that does not keep him from his involvement in trying to improve the available skateboard park.

“Right now, I’m done with applications for grants that I knew were available. I’m now looking for new grants that may become available. I’m working with some new people who are experts in the process of applying for these grants,” he said.

His enthusiasm is infectious. As he explains what he is in the process of trying to do for fundraising and what he has been able to access, it seems like he can barely stay in his seat.

“We got some private donations in the last while: Hy-tech drilling gave us $3,000; EB Insurance let us know we are getting $10,000 from them; Bulkley Valley Credit Union wants to help us but we don’t have a figure at this point. Things are moving along. We are not out there fundraising but we are working behind the scenes applying for grants and I’m visiting local businesses,” he said.

He may not be out there front and centre but he is busy with his efforts. He feels that the project may not have the presence that could be necessary.

“I’m lacking on the public front. Kids come up asking about the skate park and I tell them it is happening,” he said.

Krauskopf explained that the plans are bought and paid for but before any construction is scheduled with Newline and Spectrum Skate Parks, all of the necessary funding must be in place.

“I can’t even schedule for next spring yet because they won’t schedule until we have all of the money. But I’ve been in contact with them. There is a budget for how much is needed and we don’t have it all at this point but it is actually not too bad. The more money we have, the more it gets the ball rolling. Without adding everything up exactly, we probably have close to $150,000 pledged for the project, which is a good amount,” he said.

He said that he hopes that some of the donations will be in the form of materials such as rebar, which will be used in the construction process.

Others are interested in helping the process, including youngsters.

“There are some independent fundraising activities as well. For example, a nine-year-old wants to do some. We discussed some ideas like a raffle or selling cookies. He wants to do it. We had a meeting about it,” he said.

He feels that he has probably been trying to do the bulk of the process and that he has not been asking for enough help.

There has been very good support from the Town and he feels that there are some excellent sponsors such as the Boarding for Brant group.

He feels that the next big step is for him to get a group organized that will be able to start doing the fundraising. That could be an aspect that he could oversee. In terms of public awareness, he would like to use social media to let people know how things are going.

According to Krauskopf, the summer skateboard camps have been full. The number of eight per instructor may seem small, but he feel that the smaller number is more beneficial for those involved.

Krauskopf is also very enthusiastic about the time and effort that he spends on community activities such as the skateboard park project.

“I grew up in this community and it’s my turn to give back. I grew up being supported by clubs and people volunteering. I’m in a position now, with my good staff, where I can be out in the community doing stuff with youth and programs, and I truly believe that my business would be different today if all I did was sit behind my computer just watching the bottom line and selling product,” he said.

“I’ve taken a different approach where I’ve decided to live my life and encourage my staff to be out be a volunteer and do the sports we love.”

In the process, he feels that his involvement helps his business because people see him and his staff doing those activities and using the products that they are trying to sell.

“I feel that if I support the community, they will in turn support me. I feel that they have,” he said.

With individuals such as Krauskopf lending their efforts to helping the community’s facilities and youth, we can be sure that we will continue to have a centre that will be a great place to live and not just a hamlet on the way to somewhere else.

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