Chemainus skatepark finally decided

Old elementary school site: North Cowichan to start work on new park this summer

The long-awaited Chemainus skatepark finally looks ready to go ahead.

The long-awaited Chemainus skatepark finally looks ready to go ahead.

Chemainus skaters may finally have a designated place to ride by the end of this year.

North Cowichan confirmed today it will build the skatepark at the former Chemainus Elementary School site  following a design input huddle held April 29.

Staff gathered feedback from potential users and other Mural Town community members at the session, held at Chemainus Secondary School.

“I think the objective was to get some potential users there who want to help us out with the design process and give input,” said North Cowichan Parks and Rec manager Ernie Mansueti last week. “And that’s what we saw.”

North Cowichan will be issuing a request for proposals for the new park, which is expected to be between 6,000 and 9,000 square feet in size, and will accommodate bikes, skateboards, scooters and in-line skates.

“The future vision for this project is a centrally-located park in Chemainus with various recreational components and amenities,” said Mayor Jon Lefebure. “The skatepark will be just one element of the park and provide an opportunity for our youth to pursue healthy, active lifestyles.

“It is exciting and encouraging to see the kids in our community engaged in the design process for the skatepark and eager to see this facility built.”

Mansueti was also pleased four people stepped up to help at the design meeting, including a couple younger people and a new-to-town resident who helped design a similar park in his previous hometown of Estevan, Sask.

About 38 people showed up to the municipality-hosted meeting.

Not everyone present was on the same page, Mansueti indicated.

“There’s still some anxiety over the location,” he said. “But we really wanted to concentrate on dealing with potential users and gathering that feedback.”

The location for the park has been an ongoing question for years.

The path to this location seemed to become clear last year when School District 79 returned the old elementary site to North Cowichan. But homeowners expressed concerns about noise, crime and other worries.

But, according to the municipality, a community meeting held last June showed enough strong public support.

“Safety in our community is a top priority, and we applaud North Cowichan for moving forward with this project,” Duncan/North Cowichan RCMP officer in charge Ray Carfantan said. “When communities provide these types of recreational facilities, it steers skaters away from roads and sidewalks improving safety for participants, pedestrians and motorists.”

Mansueti hoped to have a conceptual drawing, sketched from feedback by community members, ready within six weeks to take back to the public for final approval.

The budget allotted for the park has been set at $350,000. Construction is expected to begin later this summer.

Another community meeting to review the overall concept plan for the former school site, including a mix of recreational and single-family residential uses, is also expected to take place soon.