'Old school' skateboard park to get new life 

RMOW on the hunt for skateboard park designers

Whistler is making moves to spruce up the neighbourhood around the new Audain Art Museum and next up for a facelift is the 20-year-old Whistler skateboard park.

The municipality is now looking for someone to lead the design of the park's rejuvenation project.

It has issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for a qualified individual, firm or team to lead the project.

"It certainly is time," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. "It's close to the Audain Art Museum. It's going to be nearby the Cultural Connector so it really is time... It's highly used... It really does need to be upgraded."

The revamp has been a long time in coming, according to Chris Charlebois, owner of The Sk8 Cave, the skate shop in Function Junction.

"I believe that it's time to put a little bit of energy towards the skateboard side of things," said Charlebois, who has been involved in discussions with the municipality about ways to improve and enhance the park from a skateboarder's perspective. "It's only going to create tourism. It's only going to create a lot of good energy, bring people up this way."

The skateboard park, next to the village day lots beside Fitzsimmons Creek, was developed in phases. One of the initial stages in the early 1990's was a concrete bowl then a concrete plaza was built in 1999. A third area was set aside for future expansion, but in the interim it was paved in asphalt and developed with wooden elements.

"The bowl itself is legendary," said Charlebois. "That should never be touched. That should never be messed with... But it's time to, in my opinion, do a phase three, something that is more modern style architecture."

Skateboarding, he added, has come a long way in the last 20 years.

Newer parks have more ledges, rails and stairs, for example.

Incorporating elements like those will not only entice experienced skaters, but a range of features could also get younger skateboarders more involved at that park. That progression is something currently lacking, he said.

There have also been discussions about having some features partially covered to protect skateboarders from rain and sun.

The designers will be responsible for reviewing the existing components, engaging users and RMOW park planning, as well as developing a programmatic and schematic design.

That design will also include refined budget estimates, which will be considered as part of the 2015 budgeting process.

At the same time, work is well underway on the multi-million Audain Art Museum as well as the Cultural Connector project, which will define a route through the village linking various cultural facilities and spaces.

The RFP states: "The museum and enhanced skateboard park will both be important to Whistler's future as a visitor destination. The interface between these sites and the Valley Trail will be addressed by RMOW staff, with input from the skate park and museum designers."

For more info about the skateboarding community, check in at the Facebook site: Whistler Skateboard Association.

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