Organizers, parents, kids and local dignitaries came together at the Rotary Skatepark in Castlegar to celebrate the 10th year of the popular facility on Friday, Sept. 6.
A heavy afternoon rain, which had threatened to put a damper on the proceedings, gave way to sunny skies as everyone met to recognize the positive impact the skatepark has had on the community.
“I was involved with Kootenay Family Place back in the days when we first started talking about a skateboard park in Castlegar,” said Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy. “And lobbying the city and people to say that skateboarding is a real sport. We were getting kids out, like Josh Evin who was one of the first kids to come out and skate; some really amazing kids that have gone on to do really well. It was really neat to see Rotary get on board with this project.”
Conroy said she has been to lots of places in B.C. and people have told her that the Castlegar skatepark is one of the best in the province. Conroy thanked all those involved in the construction and sponsorship of the park.
Skatepark co-ordinator Ty Smith, who is actively involved in a number of groups promoting skateboarding and instruction, was the MC for the celebration and was very happy to have hit a total of 300 participants in the Summer in the Skatepark free instructional series.
“The positive support, having all of the families that have come together and really embraced what’s going on at the skatepark means a lot to everyone in the community,” said Smith. “It’s growing and will continue to grow over the years to come, as they realize that it’s such a fun lifestyle activity. Some of the stereotypes we’ve seen in the past are not realistic anymore here in Castlegar anymore.”
Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff also spoke highly of the skatepark and the people who work to maintain it.
“It’s a facility that really brings the community together,” said Chernoff, who commended Smith and others for taking a sense of ownership in the skatepark and turning it into a facility that draws people in from all over the region.
Darlene Kalawsky spoke on behalf of the Castlegar Sunrise 2000 Rotary club. Kalawsky said the original idea for the park came from engineer Chris Bullock who approached the organization. From there, the other Castlegar rotary club also became involved in the planning.
“This project would also not have happened without Jack Chernoff,” said Kalawsky. “He became a project manager and spent countless hours here and meeting with all the powers-that-be to make it happen.”
Kalawsky also recognized other former recreation directors and volunteers like Wilf Sweeney who gave of their time to help make the skatepark happen.
Jim Lamont, of the evening Rotary club, related an interesting story about the steep-sided bowl at the park. It was constructed with help from a Vancouver contractor that specialized in creating the smooth, sprayed-on concrete sides of the bowl. The two men were in town about 10 days to complete the work and stayed at Lamont’s homes so that construction costs could be lowered.
Taya Whitehead, representing Kootenay Family Place, read a prepared statement from executive director Jim Fisher who was unable to attend. Whitehead acknowledged the dedicated volunteers and community organizations that helped in the creation and ongoing maintenance of the facility.
Jim Crockett, manager of recreation at the Castlegar Community Complex, also spoke and echoed the sentiments of the other speakers.
Safeway donated a large cake to the festivities, complete with a picture of the skatepark on it.
Smith said he looked forward to welcoming even more people to the skatepark next year.