Rumours are flying almost as fast as some of the skateboarders at the West Shore Skate Park on Kelly Road in Langford. But the fate of park is sealed and demolition is slated to begin on Sept. 30.
The 21-acre property that the park sits on was originally owned by School District 62 and was sold to Sobey’s Inc. as part of a $23.25 million deal back in the spring of last year. The school district has been leasing the land back since the sale.
The demolition of the park was originally scheduled for this spring, but was pushed back after some protest from the public, who wanted it kept open for the summer months. After that initial wave it seems that public interest in the park has died down, with not much progress being made in finding a new location. Some speculate that interest in finding a new location has simmered because the park is still standing and many residents don’t know it will be removed.
“Until recently I didn’t know,” said Ryan McGlashan, manager of the Langford location of the Heritage Board Supply Company. He said the new owners were not interested in keeping the park, and taking on the risks and insurance that came with it.
He said a lot of myths had been flying around the community about the negative aspects of the park, especially in regards to drug and alcohol use, which some are blaming for its removal. But McGlashan said the new owners would not have been interested in keeping it even if it had been operating flawlessly since its inception.
“A lot of issues that stemmed from the park weren’t from users, but from people nearby.” McGlashan suggested that building it next to a secondary school may not have been the best choice.
While there is no plan in place yet to replace it, McGlashan is part of a coalition that is forming, and still looking for members, to find a new home for the park somewhere on the West Shore. But he notes that it is still in its infancy and members haven’t started approaching potential sites yet.
“One of the major things that hasn’t dawned on people is that people aren’t going to stop skating,” he said, adding that once the park is gone they’ll likely end up in places they aren’t supposed to be.
McGlashan wants to see the park rebuilt somewhere that’s easily accessible for users, since many of them are children or young adults from low-income families without access to a vehicle, he said.
Bobbi Neal, community development co-ordinator with West Shore Parks and Recreation, is working with the coalition, or society as she called it, in these early stages to get started and find a new location for the park. After that, she said they will start approaching municipalities and start working on a fundraising plan.
“We want the public to be aware,” she said, adding that there had been a lot of interest in having another park.
“We need to come together and find a solution.”
The coalition’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday (July 23) at 8 p.m. at the Heritage Board Supply Company’s Langford location, 895 Langford Pkwy. The meeting is open to the public.