The first in the Rossland Skatepark Association’s (RSA) new round of public consultations on Jan. 25 “went extremely well” according to Les Carter who facilitated the meeting and is helping the RSA come to a community consensus on the best location for a skatepark in Rossland.
“Roughly 20 people were there, bringing all kinds of points of view,” Carter said. “I was impressed with the energy, thought, and good will that went into the meeting. There were a lot of things shared that needed to be shared and a lot of common ground found.”
Although the main thrust of this first meeting was to agree on criteria that will later be applied to a number of potential sites, Carter identified three major points that arose: planning history, neighbourhood impact, and city council authority.
The Emcon site, which until recently has been the main focus of the planning process, was bought by the city back when Carter was mayor. Later, Carter explained, a lot of effort went into a “a very structured process to plan how to use the Emcon site.”
A plan developed for the Emcon lot that was never used, but “a number of people were upset because those original plans did not include a skatepark.”
Consequently, a new criteria has been added: “What’s the planning history of the site?”
In April, when the RSA holds its second meeting in which the criteria are weighted and applied to the various sites, Carter said, “One of the questions I will ask is, if this were the only site, what would it take to make it work?” In that case, people might consider how the earlier plans could be amended to include a skatepark.
An old criteria, impact on the neighbourhood such as noise and garbage, or attracting the “wrong sort of people,” came out strongly as a “deal breaker” from most participants.
Carter put it in perspective, noting that these concerns are recognized, but “we don’t have the information to assess whether they’re valid or not.”
To this end, RSA directors are currently gathering information from a number of other communities with skateparks, so we might learn from others’ experiences. This is why the next meeting is not planned until April, by which time these important facts will be gathered.
“We’re also going to gather information about the sites on our list, technical information,” Carter added. “How good a site is this to physically build a skatepark on?”
Another matter arose regularly, Carter said, clarifying firmly that “this is all simply a recommendation to city council. We can’t make the final decision.”
He explained, “We elected our government to make the hard decisions about land-use and they don’t delegate that authority away. The power of [the RSA’s] process is to approach council with a consensus.”
To aid the decision-making process in April, RSA directors aim to come up with a simple map and drawings for each site along with a package of information.
Besides the southeast corner of the Emcon lot, the other sites currently under consideration include the north end of Jubilee Park, near the community gardens, the Centennial soccer fields close to the bike jumps, the western section of the Centennial trailhead parking lot, and Ross-Glenn, the current bike skills park below Esling Park.
Carter said the RSA is still wide open to other suggestions, such as the west side of the Arena parking lot beside the embankment. “The process is open at any time for people to come in and add comments,” he said.
Carter will soon post the written comments offered by the meeting’s participants on the RSA website, www.skaterossland.com, and will prepare a report that will be available at city hall and on the website.