There is a long history behind the issue, beginning in 1997, when then RCMP Inspector Butler presented a petition to Mayor and Council requesting construction of a skate park in Chemainus.
Over the years, 12 sites have been considered:
1. Municipal land near McBride's Service Station -- this land is too small for a skatepark and many parents were concerned about the location, right between Chemainus Road and the railway track.
2. Croft Street RV Parking -- this was too small as well.
3. A public meeting in 2008 on the Croft St location, in which approx 150 attended, clearly came up with Chemainus High/Elementary site as the preferred location.
The Muni had already approached SD 79 in 2006 and 2009 but the site had not been deemed surplus to school needs and on both occasions was not approved.
4. Chemainus Ball Park -- would require tree removal and poses visibility and road issues.
5. Island Timberlands Benchlands -- in 2005 they were approached with no success
6. Fuller Lake Arena and nearby property -- this was determined to be too far out of the way from the core area. Parents were clearly against this remote site as well. I remember being one of them.
7. Fuller Lake Park -- see # 6
8. Askew Creek Park -- significant tree removal would be required
9. Old Chemainus Elementary School -- the site preferred by users (and which now has preliminary plans developed)
10. Croft Street (near Alder Street) - Road would need relocation; site too small and not preferred by users.
11. Mount Brenton Golf Club -- was approached in June of 2005 about selling or leasing some land, they were not interested.
12. Gerry Smith Park (Loci) - Leased land from Island Timberlands. This parcel is 0.3 acres. Approval would be required by Island Timberlands. Communities in Bloom has recently completed a redesign and planting of this area.
A bit of history. In May 2005 the Muni hosted a Skate Park Open House at Fuller Lake Arena. In October of that same year the Muni hosted - Youth Engagement Forum where youth shared they do not feel part of the community and are unwelcome.
In the fall of 2013 it was discovered that the Municipality donated the old Chemainus Elementary School property to the School District to be used for school purposes and if it was not needed for that in future it would revert back to the Municipality.
In June of 2013 the land was transferred back to NC prompting a meeting at Chemainus High for the public to provide input into the overal development of the old Chemainus School property. Citizens were divided into 16 groups (of approx 6 - 8 people) and asked to draft a design for the site. 12 concept plans showing a skate park in the general vicinity the district is looking at were shared. An additional 2 show show the skate part in a slightly different position but on the old school site. One group supported a skate park at Fuller Lake.
In April of 2013 the Chemainus Advisory Committee (comprised of a mix of Chemainus residents and representatives of Chemainus businesses and associations) fully endorsed the skate park on this site.
One of the challenges with this site is the cost of demolition of the old school and gym. This is expected to be offset by residential lot development on the site. Considering input from the June 2013th meeting, staff have developed 2 concept plans for same which will be presented to the community. The final plan will include
a skatepark with park amenities plus a single family oriented subdivision that is expected to buffer existing homes in the area.
In June and July of this year, as part of the design process, the Director of Parks and Recreation met with future park users and neighbours' representatives. It resulted in some changes to the plan for the skate park as follows:
* addition of a water fountain
* 24 - hour security cameras
* addition of a washroom
* times of use to be regulated by by-law
* Visional and noise buffers -- geotechnical testing confirmed that cutting the park into the bank will provide a visual and acoustic buffer to the majority of the residential community.
* parking will be located in the Chemainus High Parking lot after school hours
On August 8th of 2014, after hearing from concerned citizens in favour and not in favour of the site, the Chemainus Advisory Committee unanimously reaffirmed its commitment to the site.
The next step is for Council to make its decision on whether to proceed with construction of the skatepark planned tentatively for the fall. The Council meeting is expected to take place on August 20th at 1:30 at City Hall.