Future of skate park in jeopardy 

Vandalism, disrespect for site are headaches for skateboard association

click to enlarge Helping Hands (Left to right) Lenny Rubenovitch, Brian Hockenstain and Chris Powers help paint the underground skatepark this week while skaters use the facility. The future of the skatepark is in jeopardy due to vandalism.
  • Helping Hands (Left to right) Lenny Rubenovitch, Brian Hockenstain and Chris Powers help paint the underground skatepark this week while skaters use the facility. The future of the skatepark is in jeopardy due to vandalism.

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“We’ve got a lot of new obstacles, the bowl is brand new, and the park is the best it’s ever been,” he said. “But within a few hours of people disrespecting the area, it’s disgusting. It’s just a lot of people ruining it for themselves.

“We’re also at a time of year when a lot of people are moving to town, who don’t know what’s going on with the park or the efforts that have gone to bringing it to where it is today.

“We need to get the community more involved, the skate community, and to be able to delegate tasks to people to keep the park maintained. Right now it’s discouraging how few people come to our meetings.”

The Whistler Skateboard Association was created to help raise money and build features for the park area, as well as to represent skaters in Whistler when dealing with other stakeholders.

If the park gets a reprieve, Rubenovitch says this will likely be the skaters’ last chance to prove themselves. Otherwise, he says, there is a possibility the park could either be closed permanently or fenced in with set hours and supervision.

The association has created some new signage for skaters, much of which is being ignored. If the park is spared, Rubenovitch says they will add more signage that explains to riders the rules of conduct and the fact that poor behaviour could result in the park’s closure.

Brian Hockenstein, another member of the association, says they understand Whistler-Blackcomb’s concerns.

“I want to be clear, Whistler-Blackcomb is the good guy in all of this,” he said. “They gave us the space and some funding, and have helped us out a lot. It’s the skaters that are ruining this for themselves, and it’s really just a small percentage of the skaters that are making us look bad.”

The association recently put up a sign telling skaters not to urinate in the stairwell, which some skaters are making a point of urinating under. There is also a sign telling skaters not to scuff their wheels on the stairwell walls so they grip better on the Skatelite surface, which have also been ignored.

There is a public washroom beside the liquor store on Franz’s Trail, says Hockenstein, and no shortage of concrete outside the parkade.

“You know it’s kids who think it’s funny to piss under the no pissing sign, but if they don’t cut it out then this is over. We don’t mind sticking up for the park, and donating our time to clean it up from time to time, but we’re not going to do this forever,” said Hockenstein. “The skateboard community is going to have to start standing up for themselves.”

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