Chilliwack’s brand-new skate park will not be built at the Twin Rinks site, along with the new Sardis library, as originally planned.
Instead it will be constructed on a city-owned piece of land set aside for future parklands, within a development by Canada Lands Company known as the “Webster Block” on Webster Road at Keith Wilson Road.
“Staff took it away and really looked at the situation and came up with a brilliant compromise,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz at the council meeting Tuesday night.
The well-used skate park near Twin Rinks had been the subject of several complaints, she noted.
“We’ve done our best to address those issues before they became a huge problem, and before we go ahead and build a new one,” she said. “There was an outpouring of concern by some who didn’t think the (skate park) use was compatible with old-age pensioners, an emergency operations centre, ham radio operators, and the new library.”
During the public consultation process earlier this summer, city officials got an earful from residents concerned about size of the new skate park, as well as possible conflicts with neighbours over noise and other issues.
So staff deliberated and recommended a new location, one on Webster Road that will have more eyes trained on the park, with apartment buildings set to be built around the large green space in the middle of the development. The servicing and roads are in, but the residential construction has not begun.
“The city would like to begin construction of the new skate park quickly, in order to ensure it is operational prior to decommissioning the existing location on Tyson Road,” according to a press release from the city on Wednesday.
The statement from the city came on the heels of a question that came up at the rezoning hearing.
Skateboarder Dave Tucker, who is studying criminology at UFV, praised council for the new library plan, saying it would “undoubtedly become the crown jewel” of city facilities. He came to the public hearing to tell council there could be repercussions if skaters didn’t have a safe and well-lit location to practise their tricks and jumps in the interim, while the new library is being built.
“Young people will end up on the public roads,” he warned, and asked if the city planned to offer another location for skaters and bike riders temporarily while the library is under construction.
As a volunteer with Chilliwack Restorative Action, he was concerned the stats of “youth acting up” would increase.
Mayor Gaetz responded that another location had already been chosen for the new skate park, and that the existing one would stay open, until the new one was built and ready to go.
The city is consulting with skate park users on the design of the new facility, which is expected to accommodate both skateboarders and BMX bike riders.
“We should be able to come up with a pretty skookum skate park,” she said. “By doing this we are making everyone happy, and that is hard to do.”
Tyson Road resident Hilary Bergen was the first member of the public to speak at rezoning hearing. She said she wrote to the city to say she was not very happy that her “beautiful park” was going to be turned into a parking lot, as result of the library construction.
“I’m still not happy about that,” she said, adding she had a couple of questions about the project.
She asked why the access to the new facility couldn’t be off Cumberland, and why there had to be two access points in the first place.
The driveways should be “gated and locked,” she said, because often at Twin Rinks young people play their car stereo loudly at night, often keeping them awake, until it’s locked and they can finally go to sleep.
Director of Development Kurt Houlden said he wasn’t sure if the concept drawing would be realized as shown. The design-build process will answer those questions, he said.
Three design build-teams were approved that night to submit proposals for the construction of the new facility.
The Tyson Road rezoning received second and third readings from council.