New group hopes to improve Whitehorse skatepark

A new non-profit group has ollied onto the skateboard scene in Whitehorse. The Skate For Life Alliance, formed a month ago, wants to give Whitehorse's Second Haven Skatepark in Riverdale a facelift.

A new non-profit group has ollied onto the skateboard scene in Whitehorse.

The Skate For Life Alliance, formed a month ago, wants to give Whitehorse’s Second Haven Skatepark in Riverdale a facelift.

“Skate For Life Alliance is a group of volunteers and skateboarders and parents from Whitehorse who are trying to raise money to improve the Second Haven Skatepark,” said president Jessica Gormley. “It’s pretty outdated. Even Dawson has a better skatepark. So does Skagway. We’re pretty behind the times as far as skateboarding goes. It’s the worst looking and the least maintained.”

Improvements so far suggested by the alliance for the Second Haven park, located just over the Robert Campbell Bridge from downtown next to F.H. Collins Secondary, include more than apparatuses to catch air from.

The group wants green spaces, picnic tables, washrooms, a water fountain, maybe even a gazebo for parents and spectators added to the park that is used by skateboarders, scooter riders and BMX bikers.

The project could cost as much as $500,000.

“We would like to hire New Line Skateparks. They’re a company out of Vancouver that’s built hundreds of different skate parks all around the world,” said Gormley.

“As soon as we get the go-ahead from the city, get some money behind us, they want to come up and do a design and let us know what will work best here.

“They said it’s $45 per square foot for a new park. For a 10,000-square-foot park, we’re looking at half a million dollars.

“The one we have now is about 20,000 square feet. So we’re hoping to keep everything that’s already concrete and then add on to that, like with a bowl in the back where they started digging one out a couple years ago.”

The current park has issues. It was built with materials not commonly used in skateparks and the layout lacks “flow” between features, said Skate For Life member Max Melvin-McNutt, a multiple-time winner at Whitehorse’s Canada Day Skate Comp.

“It was built in 1995 and it’s outdated now,” he said. “I would say it was poorly designed at the time, especially with the materials it was built with. It’s paved with asphalt and asphalt wears out – it’s very rough when it wears out.

“The whole design, it has no flow; nothing really ties together. It needs to be redesigned to a current standard.

“We’d like it built with smooth concrete … We want more transition.”

Whitehorse’s parks and recreation department has made proposals to improve the park over the past few years that were not approved by city council. But that could change now that Skate For Life has formed, said Douglas Hnatiuk, supervisor of outreach and events with the City of Whitehorse.

“The City of Whitehorse has been quite involved with the skatepark since its inception,” said Hnatiuk. “We’ve been maintaining the skatepark since the rise of the previous youth association. We’re very encouraged by this new association stepping forward and breathing new life into the skateboard park. The city has been working with individual skateboard users the past number of years. We have done a phased improvement probably about eight years ago now and since then we have plans to do some continued expansion in that area. We’re just looking forward to have a partner to move forward with.”

Skate For Life has a couple fundraising activities planned with more to follow. They will be hosting a fundraiser at Second Haven on Sept. 22 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The event will include a barbecue, live music and, of course, skateboarding.

The group is also handling security at the Yukon Roller Girls bout against North Pole, Alaska this Saturday at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre.

Skate For Life will have a table there so the public can speak with representatives, become a member for $10 or make a donation.

The Skate For Life Alliance can be found on Facebook.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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