Eight-year-old Tim O’Connor of Kentville and 14-year-old Calum Shaw of Port Williams are two proponents of a skate park for Kentville. – Jennifer Hoegg, www.kingscountynews.ca
By Jennifer Hoegg
Big applause and a young audience livened up Kentville town council’s Sept. 30 meeting.
Members of the Kentville Skate Park Association came out to hear organizer Matt MacLeod tell council why a skateboard park would be good for the town.
“It will show how much foresight our town has and demonstrate that Kentville is a leader in active lifestyles in our province,” MacLeod said.
The association would like the town to commit support, contribute $250,000 – approximately one-third of the cost – and donate 15,000 square feet of land, preferably near the new Kings County Academy.
“Having these facilities can allow people who enjoy individual pursuits to have a place a sense of belonging and pride – a place they can call their own,” MacLeod said, pitching the social and physical benefits of the idea.
“We can engage a segment of our youth who are typically non-joiners. They don’t get involved typically in team sports and they don’t have an outlet in these ways.”
MacLeod, an orthodontist, has been pursuing the dream of a purpose-built park for skateboarders, inline skaters, BMX and scooter riders for about a year. He has attracted support: the group, now a registered non-profit, has 75 members and has raised $23,000 towards the estimated cost of concrete skate park.
Sharing images of similar parks, he said, “it looks like a place where I’d take my daughter to have a picnic. It doesn’t look like a place where vagrants hang out.”
The group wants to break down myths about skate parks: that they attract delinquents, are messy or that the sport is a fad and just for kids. MacLeod’s own commitment of more than 20 years with the sport helps decry the latter assumptions.
Responding to a question from Coun. Tony Bentley about policing, MacLeod said good design helps “policing take care of itself.”
Having a well-lit, open park in a high-traffic area is important, he said. He added that skateboarders usually keep areas clean.
After the presentation, Mayor Dave Corkum asked how many of the children in the audience lived in the town and how many lived outside. Approximately two-thirds of the kids in the room indicated they did.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re from Kentville or from Coldbrook if the facility is successful,” he said, but he urged MacLeod to approach the Municipality of Kings for support.
“For a small town to come up with $250,000, it’s a lot of money, a lot of cents on the tax rate. If you have our county player there too, it certainly helps,” Corkum said. “There will be more children than the Kentville kids and the county has a bigger pot than we have.”
Councillors agreed to discuss adding the project to a budget process at a future council advisory committee meeting