Skateboarder Alexander Kotanko leaps into the air at the West Shore Skatepark behind Belmont school.

Time to act to find new home for skatepark

If Langford is looking for a skatepark, the time to start is now

Users of the soon-to-be-demolished skatepark in Langford have been granted a reprieve, but time is running out on finding a new home for it.

Thrifty Foods owner Sobey’s, which bought the Belmont secondary lands from the Sooke School District and is scheduled to begin development of the area once the high school shifts from Jacklin Road to its new home at Glen Lake, recently gave another extension on the lease of the park. It can now be used by the community until Oct. 1.

“That aligns with when Belmont is being demolished,” said Sandy Clarke, manager of recreation for West Shore Parks and Recreation, which has been helping to find a new home for a regional skatepark. “So it seemed reasonable that they would look at doing both of them at the same time.”

The recreation organization is playing a support and encouragement role, trying to gather people together to establish if there is enough interest and need on the West Shore to warrant building a new skatepark elsewhere after the current one is torn out.

“We’ve been meeting with various stakeholders with the hopes that the community will mobilize and become organized and demonstrate that need and capacity,” said Bobbi Neal, community development co-ordinator with Parks and Rec.

Last Saturday, a meeting was held with many of those people to discuss the project’s future and share the news about the lease extension.

“We’re very much in a situation where we need to find a location and fundraising needs to happen so it can move forward,” Neal said. “Our role is to help support that community initiative and we’re willing to do so in providing meeting spaces or holding the accounts for any donations or fundraised money and support that community committee,” she said. There has certainly been a demonstrated want and need for a facility, she said, but now that want and need must be focused towards the end goal, as time is running out.

Clarke said it’s almost as though there’s a lack of urgency from stakeholders because there’s still a facility to use.

“I think the reality is that people kind of forget (that it’s being demolished) because it’s still there, but we’re finding that people are starting to recognize and understand the timeline,” she said. There will soon be a sign going up at the park itself that will inform users of its demise, which she hopes will spur some more action.

What is needed, Clarke said, is the formation of a group or society of some kind that will take the reins of the project and help it move forward with some momentum.

Saturday’s meeting was larger than previous ones, she noted. “And there was a desire to formalize themselves and start working towards approaching municipalities, the school district and other community organizations for land and resources.”

To get involved email Neal at bneal@westshorerecreation.ca.

mdavies@goldstream

gazette.com

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