By Jim Bailey – Trail Daily Times
Published: August 31, 2010 5:00 PM
Who would have thought a little thing like a skateboard park would be such an ordeal?
Over the past eight years, there have been feasibility studies done, committees formed, meetings, deliberations, locals consulted and even bids proposed, but still no skateboard park in Trail.
Two prolonged attempts at it failed – both at the same point in the process – when the skateboard park committee chose a location and “consulted” the community.
Back in 2005, council had even chosen a site on Rossland Avenue and received a bid from Marwest Industries. Unfortunately, the bid came in about $4,000 over the $200,000 budget so the decision to build a park was delayed – a year.
So now it’s 2010, still no park. I am certain financing will be an issue again but let’s hope a two per cent overrun doesn’t sabotage the whole process.
To be fair, the Rossland Avenue location was never fully embraced by the mayor or council, not to mention the negative vibes from residents that helped toss it into the abyss.
Financing will be an issue again but how to get past the inevitable public outcry is the committee’s greatest concern at the moment.
The committee is nervous, perhaps afraid of the looming tyranny of a largely reactionary and dimwitted minority. As a result, it is refusing to divulge potential sites until they confer with a consultant on how to best inform and “educate” the public.
Let’s face it – most of us are apathetic laggards more comfortable surfing channels and the Internet than actually doing something productive. We let other people do that. People like the dedicated few on the committee who are donating a considerable amount of time and effort to what has amounted to eight years of concerted futility.
I’m wondering if they have the same problem building a playground, ballpark or seniors home. A seniors facility went up in my neighborhood last year. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t consulted, but they still built it.
What once was a quiet country meadow has been paved, logged and developed. A giant obtrusive building now sprawls where moose and deer once grazed. They added a dozen cut-and-paste prefab houses to boot, selling them off to make a little extra money for the developers.
I don’t mind so much, although there is more traffic: pedestrians, cars and ambulances. I’ve become quite immune to the sound of sirens at 4 a.m. I hardly stir.
Not that I have anything against seniors, they deserve a facility that caters to their particular needs; I mean my mom’s a senior and I hope to be one, too, some day.
Still if we value our seniors and other groups in the community that have their own facilities and parks, why not value our youth, too?
I remember when I was about 10 years old growing up in the Yukon, winters were – and still are, I imagine – long, cold and invariably dark. We lived in a small rural subdivision with dirt roads and only the moon, stars and northern lights for visibility. There was not much to do as a kid but play street hockey because it was the only activity that kept us warm in the -30 C weather. Remember this was pre-everything – no WiFi, text messaging, cellphones or computers.
One particularly bleak afternoon, my dad drove my brother and I over to a vacant lot normally piled high with plowed snow. But there, in place of the snow, was an outdoor skating rink. Its boards rose up to my chest, two nets squatted at either end, and two giant streetlights lit the gleaming surface so we could play hockey deep into the darkness to our heart’s content.
At the time, I didn’t care who financed or built it, I was just happy it was there. My friends, siblings and I spent countless hours gliding along its surface, savouring and enjoying every game like it was our last.
I realize now, that there had to have been some committee of local volunteers working with municipal government to build that outdoor rink, much like the dedicated men and women on Trail’s skateboard park committee.
I’m sure there are many kids out there who similarly don’t care how the skate park gets built or who pays for it, only that it does. Let it be a symbol of not only what we think of today’s generation but how we valued our own childhoods.
Think about those places that you enjoyed as a child that still resonate with advancing age. It may have been a baseball diamond, playground, outdoor rink, swimming pool, soccer pitch, library or any place where you had the chance to play only as kids know how to, a sanctuary of sorts, far from the baleful eye of parents and coaches.
In the upcoming months, the skate park committee will address the public and choose a site. It’s not clear how they will proceed but if one of the proposed sites is in your neighbourhood, relax, take a walk and support it – or, if you don’t have anything nice to say – say and do nothing.
Let the kids have their park, perhaps one day you’ll walk by it and take some satisfaction that, for better or worse, you did nothing and it worked out pretty well.
Jim Bailey is a Times reporter.