Lenny Rubenovitch is looking to make a statement that the Whistler Skateboard Association is serious about creating Phase 3 of the Whistler Skate Park.
The Whistler Skateboard Association (WSA) president said after a few quiet years, it was time for the group to spring back into action to advocate for itself by raising money and by attending Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) meetings, acknowledging, "no one's going to build you a skate park unless you demand it."
"We want to show the municipality we're serious about our skate park. We don't want to just give it a facelift," he said. "We want to make sure that we build a park that's going to be worthwhile, an asset to the community that's going to last decades."
After a couple of smaller fundraisers, the WSA hosted an event at Creekbread on Nov. 6, ultimately raising over $2,000. Rubenovitch noted the event garnered support from over 40 sponsors.
He said the group's last major push was supporting the temporary Creekside Underground Skate Park, which opened in 2006 and closed just before the Winter Olympic Games came in 2010. Around that time, the group raised about $10,000 through sponsorship and community donations, a mark matched by the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation.
"We've been taking it pretty easy the past few years," he said. "It's nice to have another project for us to be a part of. With the (municipality's) plans to explore a skate park, that's lit a fire under some community members who have taken some initiative to create some independent fundraisers."
Rubenovitch said the push isn't primarily about gathering all the dollars and cents needed to make the park a reality — "Whistler has money," he said confidently — it's about proving the park's benefits to get the RMOW fully onside as it considers its 2015 budget.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said the project is in its early stages, but noted a public consultation has been held and the RMOW is working with Jim Barnum of Spectrum Skateparks, who designed and built Phase 2 of the park, among 150 others.
"We're not just going to put a huge whack of money — or any money — unnecessarily into the budget without some kind of sense of the design," she said. "That's being done right now with a view to hitting the 2015 budget process."
Wilhelm-Morden added the RMOW is looking at outside funding to help with the project.
Though admittedly not a skateboarder, Wilhelm-Morden said she understands the need for the new park.
"A new Phase 3 area will provide a complete skate park," she said. "It will appeal to a broader skate skill level than what's currently available."
Those comments tackle Rubenovitch's main concerns, as he explained the current incarnation of the park isn't suited to the needs of many skaters in the community. He added he feels it wasn't properly built and hasn't seen much improvement over the years.
Though critical of the current park, Rubenovitch said he wasn't concerned about Spectrum's involvement, saying the park's current state was a result of a limited budget and piecework approach over the years.
For more information on the WSA, visit the Whistler Skateboard Association page on Facebook or www.whistlerskate.com. The RMOW page for the project is www.whistler.ca/municipal-gov/special-projects/skate-park-rejuvenation.
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