The City of Whitehorse is going ahead with plans that will see it take on responsibility of the new skateboard park set to be built by the Yukon government.
“The new park is going to blow people’s minds,” Joe Zucchiatti said in an April 16 interview as he highlighted the accessibility features of the planned facility.
Zucchiatti is the president of the local Skate For Life Alliance and has been involved in the planning for the new park since 2016. At that time, he said, whenever those who use the current Second Haven Skateboard Park would bring up issues about the park’s condition or damage at the park, they would get shuffled between the Yukon government and City of Whitehorse with one government telling them to take their issues to the other.
Unlike most parks in the city, the skateboard park is on Yukon government land.
“Nobody seemed to know who was responsible,” he said.
Through extensive work in recent years since then, the site has been secured for a rebuilt park with the territory set to fund the construction and the city to then take over the facility and ownership of the land, maintaining it as it does other recreational sites around town.
At Whitehorse city council’s April 14 meeting, council members enthusiastically passed the final two readings of the zoning bylaw and the land acquisition bylaw for that to happen. Streaming the meeting online, Zucchiatti said he was touched by the enthusiasm of council members in passing the two bylaws.
As Mayor Dan Curtis said, if the gallery was open to the public (it is currently closed due to COVID-19 with all but one council member attending by conference call), there would likely be a crowd of supporters, given the level of interest in the park.
Coun. Jan Stick declared herself “totally in support” of the bylaws, stating she’s looking forward to seeing the new park and watching some “amazing athletes.” Coun. Steve Roddick commented it’s “an exciting project” while Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu stated she’s happy to see it finally coming to fruition.
As Zucchiatti recalled there has been substantial work over the years to plan the features of the new skate park, taking into considerations the input and interests of those who will use the park as well as the city and territory in terms of liability and costs.
“There’s a lot of considerations that have to be looked at,” he said.
It was wheelchair MX athlete Darryl Tait who led the charge that helped ensure the park is nearly completely wheelchair accessible. Tait not only pointed out the importance of features for wheelchair athletes like himself, but also what it will mean for family members who may be coming to the park to watch skateboarders or other athletes.
“His input was integral,” Zucchiatti said of Tait.
Zucchiatti said Stantec Action Sports Group was able to take the input and considerations from different parties for the park and incorporate them into the design.
“It’s inclusive,” he said describing it as a place where users of all levels can bring their scooters, bikes and skateboards.
Zucchiatti envisions it as a site where youngsters will learn to ride their bikes while others will be mastering tricks on their boards. And while he’s quick to highlight the benefits of a place for spontaneous active recreation that users can freely access, he also highlights the potential for more formal programs at times where those who may not otherwise take up skatboarding or BMX riding can try it out and learn.
“The new park will be a professional quality park,” he said.
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