source: Goldstream News Gazette
Local skateboarders are looking to clean up the West Shore skatepark and their own public image under the banner of the resurrected Wescom Skateboard Society.
Up to a few months ago, the skatepark was graffiti-strewn and often a gathering point for some teens to drink and smoke up. Now painted in solid blues and greens, and generally free of litter, skateboarders are taking pride and ownership of the park, said Tristan Webb, 25, president of Wescom.
“Over the next few months we will be trying to change the image the public equates with skateboarding,” Webb said. “We’ll help keep the area clean and help maintain the site. We’ll see how things go.”
Skaters want to improve landscaping, provide benches, expand park elements, get demo events going and even have movie nights, he said.
They also plan to plant grass and shrubs to improve the aesthetics and keep dirt from blowing into the park.
“We want more of an overall park instead of just a skateboard park,” Webb said. “And there’s nowhere for parents to hang out except in their car.”
The first Wescom society dissolved about seven years ago after it successfully raised money to help build the skatepark, under the guidance of Brad Patterson, Wescom’s current vice-president. Patterson said with a number of issues emerging at the skatepark, it was time for riders to band together again.
“We’ve got to get organized as a community group,” Patterson said. “We want more community events at the park and to see it really used to its potential.”
Earlier this year, a scuffle between Langford bylaw officers and some belligerent drunk teens at the skatepark prompted the City to withdraw $10,000 earmarked for improvements. That incident soured an already uneasy relationship between skaters and bylaw officers, but Webb said that is slowly starting to change.
“We were definitely jaded toward (bylaw officers),” he said. “But we are working with instead of against them.”
“We get a lot of young kids and parents who come (to the skatepark) and are very happy with the scene,” he continued. “Our image isn’t completely ruined.”
Bobbi Neal, the community development coordinator with West Shore Parks and Recreation, which leases the skatepark from the Sooke School District, said the Wescom group has been extremely fast at responding to issues such as graffiti.
WSPR supplies paint and gear and Wescom supplies the painters.
Since the skaters helped paint the park and clean it up, they’ve heard plenty of positive feedback from the community, Neal said.
“(Wescom) is a fabulous, grassroots organization,” Neal said. “They’re the users of that park and they are invested in it.”
WSPR plans to work with Wescom on organizing events and helping with fundraisers. Neal said this year WSPR found an insurance provider that will cover skateboarding, a major step to allow sanctioned events.
Call Tristan Webb at 250-818-3289 for meeting times and more information on Wescom Skateboard Society.