KENTVILLE, NS – After nearly six years of planning, a new skate park has rolled into Kentville.
Kentville orthodontist and skateboard enthusiast Matt MacLeod is the man with the vision and the mind who is bringing a skateboarding space back to Kentville. The project’s first construction phase is nearly done, and set for finish by New Year’s.
A sod turning event was held last week, with a solid turnout of area residents, Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow, MacLeod himself, and people who’ll use the park faithfully once it opens.
“We’re finally here. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come with this,” said MacLeod.
From an idea to the end in sight
MacLeod grew up in Kentville, and has skateboarded ever since an older friend wowed him with his moves.
“I couldn’t believe how cool he looked – I just knew I needed do try that,” he said.
He’s now been skateboarding over three decades. After moving away from the town for school, he moved back six years ago, and saw a need for a skate park.
He didn’t want another modular, inexpensive skate park. MacLeod wanted something with style, and flow, that would blend into its area as a green space while giving skateboarders and others on bikes, scooters and other equipment a good space to let loose.
After seeing such parks in bigger cities like Toronto, MacLeod felt confident he could bring one to Kentville for the whole Kings County to enjoy.
“People have misconceptions about what skate parks look like – many new designs feature trail systems that connect with them, and other green areas,” said MacLeod.
“We wanted something that envisions a modern, fun and challenging park that’s also nice to look at.”
Project met with multi-level support
Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow attended the event on behalf of the town, calling the project, “what community is all about.”
The project began receiving funding from the town this budget year, and had been a priority within the Recreation Department for years before that.
She said the park, “represents an often marginalized sector of our society,” and is about, “bringing people together.”
“When you look at the cross section represented by this park it is absolutely amazing. Skaters come from miles around for a park, and each one built in Nova Scotia is a magnet.”
The park project’s final year of planning before ground was broken was what changed everything, said MacLeod, and saw funding from the town, municipality, the province, and the federal government.
“Everything just snowballed. Our own non-profit group has also raised $80,000,” said MacLeod.
The sod turning saw a great turnout of over 25 people, and left MacLeod and other organizers feeling great about where the project is headed.
“Everybody now recognizes and are in agreement on the value of this,” he said.
Start date for second phase dependant on funds raised
Much of the funding received from Ottawa was part of Canada 150 grants that must be used before the end of 2017, according to MacLeod.
The park’s first phase, made up of ramps, banks and other basic elements of the street portion of the park, will be done within the 2017 year. Its second phase, the much-anticipated bowl, is in need of more funds raised before construction can begin.
Once completed, it’ll span 15,000 square feet of skate park paradise to be enjoyed regionally by the entire county.
While talking to potential sponsors, MacLeod is clear this park isn’t just for skateboarders.
“This is a multi-sport park – scooters, bikes, long boards, you name it. It’s also not just boys that will play here – girls are welcome, and anyone of any age looking to use it,” said MacLeod.
“It’s a place for people that are disconnected to reconnect.”
He sees it as a place for anyone looking to enjoy a sport he says is once again coming into the limelight.
MacLeod skateboards because it’s his time when he can let loose and feel free – something he wishes all would try, to see its benefits.
“There are no rules in skateboarding. Every time you do it, it’s different, and that’s what always pulls me back to it,” he said.