It could be a while before West Shore skateboarders and BMXers can drop into a quarter pipe or pull off a sweet nosegrind on the site of the Juan de Fuca recreation centre in Colwood, but local enthusiasts are celebrating a first step towards achieving that end.
Earlier this month, West Shore Parks and Recreation approved a potential site near The Q Centre and the golf course for a future skatepark. A concept design will now be requested to verify the site’s feasibility.
“The board has said yes, let’s move ahead and get some more information. Let’s find out if we can build one there,” said Linda Barnes, West Shore Parks and Recreation Society’s administrator.
The society has been in regular contact with the Westshore Skatepark Coalition and Barnes said those discussions will continue to ensure any designs are met favourably by the park’s potential users. Having a cohesive voice from the public, she added, has been “essential.”
“We wouldn’t build something like this without that kind of input. We don’t want to build a park that kids don’t want to play on,” she said.
“We want to find the best use of that space and make it as friendly as possible for as many kids as possible.”
Jimmy Miller, president of the coalition, was pleased with the news that West Shore Parks and Rec has decided to explore a potential site.
“It means that our efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. That there’s a sympathetic ear and a recognition of the purpose of our plight. It’s a very validating step,” he said.
Since its formation early last year, the coalition has met with the West Shore’s five municipalities in a campaign to bring a skate park back to the area after the park near the former Belmont secondary was closed in October 2015.
The Juan de Fuca site would be ideal for many reasons, according to Miller.
“It makes a great spot because of the amenities nearby,” he said, pointing to washrooms and first aid stations in the immediate vicinity and the potential for lighting.
The many other recreation facilities in the area also make it convenient for parents wishing to give their kids some time at the park while they engage in other activities, Miller continued.
“It’s a good fit in my mind.”
As for design, Miller and the coalition, all of whom are skateboarders, plan to engage with BMXers and other potential users in order to submit their hopes for any eventual plan.
“It’s a large enough site that it could facilitate a bowl or a plaza-type street skatepark,” he noted.
Eventually, Miller would like to see a satellite park or two around the region, but he’s trying not to get ahead of himself and he recognizes that an initial park could still be a ways away.
The Victoria resident has been involved in previous skate park initiatives in the past. His passion for the sport is what has led him to get involved in projects, such as on the West Shore, that might not directly impact either he or his skateboarding children.
“I’ve been advocating for skate parks since I was a 10 year-old kid … if there’s a skateboard cause, I believe in it,” he said.