Pemberton skatepark open for radness 

Skatepark discussed for over a decade

It's been a long process, but at last the Pemberton Skateboard is open for grinds, slides, ollies, nollies, manuals, stalls, lip tricks, kickflips, aerials, pumping, jumping and every kind of variation that riders can come up with.

Although riders have been poaching the park for weeks, they can be forgiven for their enthusiasm - the fences finally parted on Monday, opening the state-of-the-art park to the public.

Pemberton has been discussing the possibility of creating a skatepark for local youth for more than a decade now.

"People are pretty excited," said Chris Addario of the Pemberton Skateboard Society, and one of the volunteers that helped to get the project off the ground. "It's been difficult to contain their excitement and it's all good."

It was a challenge to finally get the project built, but with the help of fundraisers, various grants and donations from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, the Village of Pemberton, Pemberton Recreation Commission, and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District - as well as matching funds from the province and federal governments - the work finally got underway last fall.

With the grants set to expire on March 31, it was a race against the clock for the contractor - even with a tent over the site during the winter to allow the work to continue. In the end, the society had to apply for an extension, which they received, and two months after the deadline the park is ready to skate.

"The winter was just one of the many hurdles for this thing," said Addario. "At the end of the day, the park has been in the works for almost 10 years now. But yeah, it's definitely been a challenge. The contractor had some difficulties, but got through it and luckily the federal government gave us extension. In the end it was better to finish this project in the spring rather than try to get everything done by the deadline."

Nobody has done a census to find out how many people ride skateboards in Pemberton, but Addario expects that there are at least a few hundred riders in town. A new skateboard shop called The Mill Skate Shop also just opened across from the park, which is adjacent to the Pemberton Community Centre along Portage Road.

As well, Addario expects that skateboarders will come from as far away as the Lower Mainland to ride the park, which has features you won't find anywhere else.

"I think people will travel from Whistler and the Lower Mainland, and I expect we'll see quite a bit of traffic - especially in the next little while as word gets out," said Addario. "The initial feedback is that it's really good and skaters are really excited to ride the course. Of course, the pool is a big feature - really the only other pool like it is at Kensington in Vancouver, and this one is a little easier to skate with eight-foot walls instead of 10.

"It's pretty challenging, but I think it's also something that will be usable by kids of all ages, which is what we were really looking for."

The park was designed by Vancouver-based Spectrum Skatepark Construction, which is one of the leading companies in North America and has over two-dozen installations across B.C.

The project wasn't without controversies, including last-minute concerns that the site's location under the power lines created health risks for kids using the park. However, the park was approved by BC Hydro using their own measurements for exposure, and the skatepark proponents - with grants set to expire - pushed through the objections.

Fundraising is still underway. The Pemberton Skatepark Society already raised $120,000 for the park, but is still on the hook for roughly $30,000 for preloading the site and grounding it because of its proximity to the powerlines. It also made some decisions during construction to cut costs, removing a clamshell feature that was in the design and leaving colour out of the concrete.

Addario said there would be more fundraising in the future to make up the debt. There will be some fundraising at the official opening, which is tentatively scheduled for June 18, and other events including the skateboard art show will likely return for another year.

The park may also play host to events in the future, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the society.

The skatepark's Facebook page can be found at Pemberton Skateboard Society.




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