By Jessica Lovell
It’s coming with a heftier than expected price tag, but Guelph’s skatepark may finally be coming.
“It’s been a long road to get to this point,” said Adam Rutherford, the city’s youth services co-ordinator.
Rutherford drafted a report for a meeting today (Dec. 10) of council’s community and social service committee, outlining the results of the community consultation process. The report includes renderings of a facility to be located in the northwest corner of Silvercreek Park, off of Edinburgh and Wellington roads. It identifies a high-level cost estimate for the project at $800,000, significantly higher than the $300,000 to $500,000 previously estimated.
“This is the cost for a quality facility,” said Rutherford.
Cost estimates provided in previous reports to council were made before a consultant was hired to do more detailed design work and site analysis, he said.
The money is still accounted for within the city’s 2014 and 2015 capital budget projections, he said.
Reacting to complaints, the city dismantled a skatepark in Deerpath Park in spring of 2010. It was thought that the city would not have the budget to build a new skatepark until 2017. But city council asked city staff to find a way to expedite the process.
The park that has been proposed differs significantly from the Deerpath skatepark, which was more of a neighbourhood park, said Rutherford. The park planned for Silvercreek Park will be more of a “destination” and will serve not only skateboards, but also scooters and BMX bikes, he said.
“It’s a significant investment, but it’s a worthwhile investment,” he said. Also, permanent facilities such as this one “tend to be a one-time investment. There’s not a lot of maintenance,” he said.
It is intended to differ significantly from Deerpath in that it is not expected to generate the kinds of complaints that prompted city councillors to recommend dismantling the old park.
The proposed site is separated from any nearby homes by the Speed River to the south, Wellington Road to the north and Edinburgh Road to the east. The roads and river create a white-noise buffer that will drown out noise from the skateboarders, said Rutherford.
“Aside from a buffer to noise, there’s also a visual buffer” created by the trees and vegetation along the river, he said.
But while the park will not be easily visible to nearby residents, it is visible to police.
“This site provided them with the absolute best drive-by monitoring,” with police able to see the facility from the road as well as to drive into the park if need be, said Rutherford. “They felt it was a perfect location.”
There are also no plans to light the facility, so it is “not expected to be a late-night gathering spot,” said Rutherford.
The lack of lighting alleviated concerns from neighbourhood residents that people might be hanging out there after hours, he said.
Aside from those concerns, neighbourhood residents who attended a community consultation session on the park were most concerned about how youths would be getting to the park.
“People wanted to make sure that young people could get to the park safely,” said Rutherford. “That was great feedback for us.” There are bus stops nearby on Edinburgh and existing crosswalks. It is also expected that some users may drive to the park or be dropped off.
Parking may be an issue, as the skatepark will take up two parking lots on the site that are currently used by beach volleyball players. “Parking is always an issue at that spot” when beach volleyball is going on, said Rutherford.
By Jessica Lovell