A skateboarder ollies on to a rail at Second Haven Skate Park in Riverdale in 2015. An agreement announced earlier this week between the Yukon government and City of Whitehorse would see the skate park rebuilt by the territory with the city then taking on ownership and maintenance of the site. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

New skateboard park expected this year

Yukon government official says the tender will be released in the Spring

Plans for a new skateboard park in Whitehorse are rolling along.

A proposed agreement between the Yukon government and City of Whitehorse would see the Second Haven Skateboard Park on Lewes Boulevard rebuilt by the territory with the city then taking on ownership and maintenance of the site.

The proposal came forward at Whitehorse city council’s March 2 meeting.

Also proposed was rezoning and a land acquisition bylaw that would allow the plans to go ahead.

Pat Ross, the city’s manager of land and building services, told city council members there are “several deficiencies and safety issues” with the park, meaning it needs a rebuild.

Cracks in concrete, uneven surfaces where asphalt meets concrete and other problems are all issues most skateboarders would not expect to encounter at most parks, he told council.

Efforts to build a new skateboard park have been underway for a number of years, primarily led by a campaign the Skate for Life Whitehorse organization started.

The park is located on Yukon government land, but it was not clear which party was responsible for the maintenance though the city has provided some efforts in the form of garbage pickup and site cleaning over the years, Ross said.

“The City and YG have been in discussions for several years over the potential for the City to formally take over the Skateboard Park,” Ross said in his report to council.

“In those discussions, the City has indicated willingness to assume responsibility and maintenance of the facility on the condition that the facility be rebuilt to current standards. YG is currently concluding the design phase of the rebuilding process and is working towards issuance of a tender for the construction of the project.”

Yukon Department of Community Services spokesperson Kara Johancsik said a tender for the skateboard park will be released in the spring with the work expected to be done in the fall.

As for how much it’s expected to cost, those details aren’t being released.

“As is typical with our funding structure, YG contributes about 25 per cent of the costs and the other 75 per cent will be covered under federal funding from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan,” Johancsik said in an email. “We prefer not to release budget details until the tendering process is complete.”

The new skateboard park is expected to be about 1.5 times the size of the current park.

For the rebuild to happen and the city eventually take over the park, a portion of the park space will need to be rezoned from a greenbelt zone to a public service zone. The sewage lift station on the site will also require rezoning from its current greenbelt zone to public utility.

First reading for the rezoning will come forward March 9. If approved, a public hearing on the change would be held at city council’s March 30 meeting with a report on that coming forward April 6. Council would vote on the final two readings April 14.

The rezoning would allow for the land to be subdivided. It could then be transferred from the Yukon government to the City of Whitehorse.

At the same time as considering the rezoning, an agreement is proposed that would set out the territory’s role in building the new skate park and then transferring it to the city when it’s finished.

Finally, another bylaw is proposed for the city to formally acquire the land. Its suggested council moves ahead with first reading of the land acquisition bylaw, but hold off on the final two readings until after the zoning changes are approved.

Questioned by council members about the operating costs, Ross said the city had initially been estimating it would be in the ballpark of about $5,000 per year similar to playground costs, but with a larger area now planned for the skateboard park it’s anticipated it will be more. Just how much more isn’t yet known.

Coun. Jan Stick recalled her son Elijah taking up the cause in council chambers before the current park was built, calling for a skateboard park in Whitehorse.

She said she’s pleased to see the new park will be in the same location, which provides an open space.

Council will vote on whether to move forward with the zoning changes, service agreement and land acquisition bylaw March 9.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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