The push for a new skateboard park is once again heading back to Kovach Park after Centennial Park was deemed unfeasible, but Southside residents aren’t too happy.
The Columbia Valley Skateboard Association (CVSA), which is leading the push for a new skateboard park in Revelstoke, went in front of council on Tuesday to once again make the case to re-develop the facility in Kovach Park.
Also presented to council — a stack of letters from nearby residents opposing the expansion.
Matt Rebelo, a helicopter pilot and home owner near Kovach Park, represented the CVSA in front of council. His first order was to rebrand the facility – calling it a youth park rather than a skateboard park.
“If you go down to the park at any point you’ll find lots of kids on bikes, lots of kids on scooters, rollerbladers, as well as skateboards,” he said. “I feel it limits the view of what this facility actually is by calling it a skateboard park.
“I feel it’s mostly kids under the age of 16 that use it. I’m going to call it a youth park. It’s a more fitting name for it.”
He provided background on the CVSA’s efforts over the years. The group has been back and forth in their search for a new facility. Their initial efforts to build a new facility in Kovach Park were rebuffed by neighbourhood residents and instead the CVSA was offered a space in Centennial Park.
“It has since been deemed by the city’s engineer Mike Thomas that it’s unfeasible to use that area for this facility due to the excavation that needs to happen and the weight of the concrete on top of the landfill that’s in Centennial Park,” said Rebelo. “We’re back to the drawing board on location.”
(Thomas was not immediately available for comment.)
Columbia Valley Skateboard Association representative Matt Rebelo makes his case to council to expand the Kovach Park skateboard park. Photo by Alex Cooper/Revelstoke Times Review
Rebelo presented a chart to council outlining the pros and cons of different parks – Kovach Park was regarded as the best location for a new skateboard park, he said.
The plan is to expand the 16,000-square-foot park by 25 per cent – the equivalent of adding 10 extra feet on three sides, he said. He presented a slideshow of skateboard facilities in other cities, saying they attract people of all ages.
“We’ve been at this for five years and we’ve been spinning our wheels on this location thing,” said Rebelo. “Without a location we can’t apply for grants, which is the main source of funding for a facility like this.”
He added the CVSA missed out on a round of provincial grants that included a $400,000 grant that went towards a skatepark in Nelson, B.C., because they weren’t shovel-ready. “I ask council to make a decision in the next couple of weeks on this matter so we don’t lose out on more grant opportunities.”
Council’s decision won’t be easy due to opposition from several Kovach Park neighbours. Several e-mails to council expressed similar opinions — that a new skateboard park in Kovach Park would disrupt the balance that exists there.
Josie Woodman, the chair of the Southside Neighbourhood Group, attended Tuesday’s council meeting. In an interview with the Times Review afterwards, she explained the group’s opposition.
“Kovach isn’t available,” she said. “We’ve got a site plan, it doesn’t include changing the skatepark.”
She said they had been working on a site plan for the park for the past year and had just completed the process – and it didn’t include an expanded skateboard park. The plan includes washroom facilities, seniors exercise equipment, a better playground and more trees and tables.
The main concern is that an improved skateboard park would attract more use, and therefore more noise and would push out other user groups.
“It was going to continue to be a multi-generational, multi-use place and we feel that’s its essence and that’s its core,” said Woodman. “I think a large skateboard park – which is another 25 per cent – it would dominate the park and we are sure that’s not quite what we had in mind.”
Both the CVSA and the Southside group feel frustrated by the process. The CVSA has been looking for a feasible site for five years and the Southside group feel like Kovach Park is being deemed the default location, regardless of their opposition to it.
“They’re saying Centennial Park can’t be used because of whatever,” said Woodman. “I think we’re saying Kovach is off the list too. You already gave us a site plan, you already told us what we’re doing there. I don’t understand that. There’s lots of contradictory stuff there.”
Rebelo, responding to questions from council, responded to neighbourhood concerns, saying the expanded skateboard park wouldn’t change the nature of Kovach and it would still draw kids and families. “Once it’s developed it’s going to be seen as a great place for families and all sorts of people,” he said.
The matter is scheduled to be discussed by the city’s Parks and Recreation committee at a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 8:30 a.m. at the community centre. A report will then be presented to council, who will have final say on the location.
Correction: A caption in a previous version of this story stated Matt Rebelo is the president of the CVSA. In fact, he’s not. He appeared as a representative of the CVSA. Karl Jost, who came as part of the CVSA delegation, but didn’t present to council, is the current president of the CVSA. We regret the error.