A park revitalization project that has been 5 years in the making has been realized this week.
Oliver Parks and Recreation (OPRS) staff have been working alongside an advisory committee of local residents and youth since 2014 to make an improved skatepark a reality. Research shows skate parks are one of the best spaces for physical recreation: an hour on a skateboard is proven to have more fitness benefits than an hour playing basketball. Other benefits to having this kind of play space in a community including giving kids a legitimate space to exercise, socialize and have fun and helping keep kids safe: skateboarding and scootering inside a skatepark is far less likely to result in injury than rolling in the street or parking lots.
Based on community consultation between 2015-2018 including lots of input from excited kids and teens, the desired outcome is the removal of unsafe, older features and the installation of new
‘street-style’ features that are fun for all ages, skill levels and abilities and will service multiple kinds of ‘wheels’ (i.e. scooters, bikes, skateboards, etc.). The project reached “shovel-ready” status in 2018 and a campaign was launched to raise the funds required for construction, estimated at $260,000.
Oliver’s “Small Wheels Playground” project – an initiative to rejuvenate the aging skatepark that was first built in 2000 fueled by the dedication and commitment of many volunteers and in memory of Joel Waines – was chosen in June as one of six finalists in BCAA’s Play Here contest. After an exciting summer campaign that saw incredible support locally and across the province, the Small Wheels Park received the second highest number of votes, earning the community one of three $100,000 cash prizes. Shortly after, RDOS Area “C” Director Rick Knodel pledged matching financial support for the project through the Federal Gas Tax Fund and the Kiwanis Club of Oliver stepped forward to commit $40,000 to ensure the project would be completed in 2019. These large donations partnered with the proceeds from multiple community fundraising events and donations from local service clubs, businesses and individuals made it possible to start construction on October 22.
The lead contractor on the Small Wheels Park project, New Line Skateparks, wrapped up the construction phase at Lion’s Park on Dec 6 and will be working to remediate the work site by Dec 12th
“It’s wonderful to see the park built and ready to go, not just a picture on a poster”, says Carol Sheridan, Manager with Oliver Parks and Recreation. Sheridan says that there will be fencing kept up throughout the winter months around the most sensitive exterior areas of the park that need to be landscaped in the spring and so park users are asked to use the north and east access points as the temporary entrance into the facility. Further safety messages from the Society about park use:
Small Wheels Park is unsupervised and park users should always consider the risksassociated with riding. All riders are strongly encouraged to wear protective gear such as a helmet and do their part to keep the park free of graffiti and garbage.The concrete surface can become icy and wet during the winter months and riders are asked to steer clear of the park in these unsafe conditions.
Phase 2 of the project
(landscaping, signage, recognition plaques, seating, lighting etc.) will commence in early spring 2020 and funds will still be required to see the rest of the project through. The official grand opening for the Small Wheels Park is being planned for mid-March 2020 and recreation programming such as camps and clinics in the park is expected to start in late spring.