KENTVILLE -- Plans to complete the second phase of construction on Kentville’s new skate park are rolling along quite well just as landscaping is being completed in time for the official opening on Oct. 20.
The 15,000-square-foot outdoor facility is used for skateboarding, biking and wheelchairs. It has been in the development and construction phase for several years and is a cooperative effort by the Kentville Skatepark Association and the Town of Kentville.
Rachel Bedingfield, director of parks and recreation for the Town of Kentville, said in an interview the project has cost upwards of $600,000 so far. Another $200,000 is needed to finish the bowl and install lighting.
However, she said the new facility is already attracting users to Kentville from far and wide.
“We’ve had people from all over Atlantic Canada and beyond come and talk about what a great park it is and that it’s one of the best in the province. We’re really proud of it.”
She said the park was being used every day as early as last November, with some die-hard skaters even shoveling snow to skateboard during the winter.
“It was designed by the skateboarding community for the skateboarding community. And we are really lucky that the skateboarding community of Kentville is very passionate about their town,” she said.
“There are elements in the park that throwback to when people used to skate here when they were younger. For example, an element called The Gremlin is a throwback to the former stairs on the front of the former KCA School. We’ve got an element that emulates Blomidon, what that looks like. So, it’s really neat that we are able to offer a facility that is special to this area. And because of that, we definitely do have people coming from all over to try it out.”
Bedingfield said between 20 and 40 people use the park per evening. As well, KCA School offers an afterschool skateboarding program, which has a waiting list. And, the town uses the park for summer camps.
Aidan West has been skateboarding in the Valley for 28 years. He is also the teacher at KCA School who organized the after-school program for skateboarders from primary to Grade 8.
In an interview, he said the program offers one-on-one instruction on how to navigate the park on a skateboard, bike and wheelchair, as well as skateboarding etiquette, so the facility operates safely.
He said it’s been great to see the real sense of community displayed there every day.
“There are children who have their parents set up lawn chairs. You see people interacting with each other. Things are going smoothly. It’s forming this great sense of community where parents can come and feel comfortable and kids can come and feel comfortable.”
He also believes the skateboard park is a good investment for the town.
“Kentville has a top-notch bike park, we’ve got an indoor soccer facility, we’ve got countless ball fields and great hiking trails and refinished tennis courts and multiple playgrounds. I think the skateboard park was just kind of a natural continuation of what the town has been investing in over the last 15 to 20 years.”
Brock Wallace also grew up skateboarding in Kentville and is the owner of Limitless Skate on Main Street, as well as an avid user of the park.
“Every time I go there’s a lot of people there. I don’t think I’ve ever been there by myself yet,” he said in a recent interview.
“I think it’s one of the best skate parks in the Maritimes and definitely one of the best in Nova Scotia. I know a lot of people all over the province that skateboard, and this seems to be the place to go. There are a lot of people travelling from out of town to get here, to not only try it out, but to come back and keep using it. I think it’s more popular than anyone around here would have expected,” he said.
“It’s pretty intermediate based so everyone can have fun on it. You don’t have to be an expert to have a bit of fun. So, I think our skate park has the advantage of being able to be used by everybody.”
Wallace believes Kentville is in tune with the trending popularity of skateboarding.
“Alternative sports seem to be the thing. Not everyone is into baseball and soccer. It’s in the X Games, it’s going to be in the Olympics in 2020. So, were keeping up with the times and doing things differently for the youth.”
The official opening of the skateboard park will include a skateboard competition, live music from local talent and food. The park cannot be used in the rain, so the rain date is set for Oct. 27.