By MELISSA HORTON
With Kitchener already being home to three skate parks, it may come as a surprise to learn that a new park is coming to the region this year. It will be located on the corner of Pioneer Drive and Homer Watson Boulevard.
Karen Leasa, associate landscape architect with the City of Kitchener, said this particular location was chosen because, “The south end of the city did not have any skateboarding facilities near to their respective neighbourhoods, making the current location of Doon Pioneer Skate Park crucial in providing an equitable balance of facilities across the city.”
So far, community response to the project has been positive. The already existing skate parks have given youth a place to go and socialize as well as participate in skateboarding. With many families not being able to afford sports costs, skate parks have become an alternative to keep many youth active.
“I don’t mind the idea of a skate park,” said Melanie Shrank, a Kitchener resident who lives close to the site of the new park. “It gives kids something productive to do.”
However, it’s not just the residents that the City of Kitchener are thinking about, it’s the skateboarders too. Last January a public engagement workshop took place at Budd Park Sports Lounge where a design consultant from Newline Skateparks, the company contracted by the city to come up with a design, worked with local skateboarders on design ideas. More workshops are planned for the future.
“The follow-up workshop will be the consultant presenting three conceptual designs based on some of the initial feedback from the first workshop,” said Leasa. “The final open house will be the consultant presenting their final consolidated concept plan and an opportunity for minor alterations to the plan prior to the final construction drawings being developed.”
This isn’t the first time that the city has involved the community, skateboarders in particular. In 2010, the city offered online surveys to the community during one of their open houses to gain insight into how the public feels.
According to the City of Kitchener Skate Park Planning Study, of the 355 people who responded to the survey, 81 per cent were skateboarders or parents of a child who skateboards.
In another survey included in the study, which was partly completed before the installation of McLennan Park, 229 skateboarders said they used the street, 188 used the sidewalk and a combined number of 351 varied between using two Kitchener skate parks or skate parks located outside of Kitchener.
According to a Nov. 23 article in the Waterloo Region Record, the city has budgeted $350,000 for the new skate park and construction is expected to start this summer.