Monday, June 17, 2024

New skatepark in Colwood will pay homage to Belmont Park that closed in 2015


Skateboarders west of Victoria will have somewhere new to go soon!

The Westshore Skatepark Coalition (WSC) and West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) have been collaborating to bring a new skatepark to the West Shore. 

The project was announced this past May and now it’s moving ahead into the construction phase, but that is far from where the skatepark’s journey began. 

The new skatepark’s origins

In 2015, the Belmont Skatepark closed as the parcel of land it resided on was sold. This left a huge hole in the skateboarding community and people had nowhere else to turn but the streets for a place to hone their craft. 

Greater Victoria had only a few other options for young skaters and scooter enthusiasts to go except for Sooke, Sidney, Vic West skateparks and Topaz Park skatepark which only opened in 2022.

During that time youth skateboarders in the West Shore would resort to skating anywhere they could because those skateparks were all too far for them to access easily.

“They would be skating in parkades and on sidewalks and experiencing that stereotypical space of being asked to leave and being sent to other locations, but they didn’t have a location to go to,” said Bobbi Neal, Community Development Director for WSPR. 

Skateboarding in a safe space will only benefit the West Shore

The ultimate goal is that with the new skatepark on the WSPR land, people will have even more of a one-stop-shop for all their families recreation needs.

“It’s part of the family experience at WSPR,” said Jimmy Miller, President of the Westshore Skatepark Coalition. 

“It’s the ability to bring one sibling to hockey practice, another sibling to swimming lessons and another sibling to the skatepark, during before or after. Then maybe a parent gets to do a round of golf, it’s meant to be a multi-faceted thing.  

Along with the new skatepark, WSPR are planning on providing lessons for youth skateboarders and programming to make the park a safe space for LGBTQ2IA+, gender-diverse and culturally diverse people wanting to skateboard. 

“We’re looking at a spectrum of inclusion and to have some programming around that to create that safe space,” Neal told Victoria Buzz. 

Construction progress

The 13,000 square-foot project is to be an ‘all-wheels’ skatepark, which means that any wheeled recreation can be enjoyed there. Skateboards, scooters, roller skates and bikes will all be welcome there.

WSPR and the Juan De Fuca Recreation Centre are owned collectively by five municipalities who contributed $459,600 cumulatively toward the skatepark. This equates to approximately 36% of the budget for the park. WSPR says they are also getting some federal funding and grants to help pay for the park. 

Each municipality paid an amount based off how much of their population would be using the park:

  • Colwood – $99,880
  • Langford – $239,325
  • Highlands – $16,785
  • Metchosin – $36,130 
  • View Royal – $67,480

WSPR have also launched a fundraiser campaign called, ‘100 X 1,000’ to contribute toward the skatepark. The goal is to get 100 donations of $1,000 to help pay for the park on top of what the five surrounding municipalities have chipped in. So far they’ve had 26 of 100, gaining them a grand total of $26,000 in additional funds for the skatepark.

The nature of planning and then building a skatepark means making it work for those who will be using it. New Line Skateparks is a world leader in skatepark design, by skateboarders, for skateboarders and they are the company who is building and designing the park.

The new Westshore Skatepark will include three sections. There will be a street course element, a ‘flow-zone’ and a bowl section. 

“The flow-zone is new to the area,” Miller told Victoria Buzz. “Usually skateparks will go to one end or the other between street and bowl and this is meant to be a compromise where it has elements of a snake run but it has edges you can still slash and do tricks upon.”

“We’ve been tweaking the design and that street course has been idealized.”

One special feature that has been included in the new skatepark is a bit of an homage to the Belmont skatepark that was its predecessor. 

“They’re called ‘hump-bumps,’” Miller said. “There’s definitely an homage to that kind of ‘tighter pump’ or ability to gain speed within a small area and that’s what I see in that design.” 

The pool will be a bit of an homage as well to a classic swimming pool with tile done around the ledges. It isn’t quite as deep as the Topaz Park pool but at eight feet deep it is still impressive and poses a challenge to skaters in the West Shore. 

As the park progresses throughout the construction phase, it is likely that its design will evolve to best suit its users. Miller told Victoria Buzz there are more unique aspects of the park that until he can be sure of, he will remain tight-lipped.

The Westshore Skatepark is projected to be finished in the spring of 2023.

Curtis Blandy

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