16-year-old Noah Schumka from Ladner catches some air on a jump at Sidney’s skateboard park on Sunday, July 2. (Steven Heywood/News staff)

Sidney’s new skateboard park is officially open

With the cutting of a ribbon and the pulling back of a sheet, Sidney’s new skateboard park was officially opened on Sunday, July 2.

The park, designed and build by the lower mainland’s NewLine Skateparks following an extensive consultation period last year, has been open for general use since the beginning of June as the Town of Sidney decided to let park users give it a try before the grand opening ceremony.

Timed to coincide with the Town’s Canada 150 events — as well as Sidney’s own 50th anniversary since it was incorporated as a town — the opening event featured some of the people involved with the creation of Sidney’s first skate park next to the Pat Bay Highway. Derek Newman, who was 17 when he was part of the effort to have a facility built in town, was at the opening of the new park Sunday.

“A few years ago (close to 20), we were a bunch of unorganized skateboard bandits on the streets of Sidney, terrorizing the local businesses and residents,” he said, “we decided to get organized, so with the help of Jack Barker and some of the other local municipal staff, we decided to start fundraising.”

Newman said there was a lot of local support at that time and a park was built.

“It was fantastic. What it did was provide us, a community of our friends, to get off the streets and get busy and stay organized.

“It’s just nice to see this facility has been re-invented in this pristine location. You couldn’t ask for a better view.”

Newman, who said he doesn’t skate much these days — he’s busy being a dad — said the investment made in a new facility shows the community’s recognition of skateboarding culture, as the sport has become more mainstream.

“It’s nice to see the efforts we put in 20 years ago are still being cared for today.”

The old skate park was recently demolished to make way for Sidney’s new community safety building.

Mayor Steve Price called the opening “a super exciting day for our community.” He said the facility is world class — and with an ocean view.

“One of council’s priorities during this term has to provide a more balanced demographic,” Price said. “Projects like this park, that provide opportunities for youth, is one way we can make that happen in the Town of Sidney.”

Price added Sidney will have many people from around the region coming to the park. The facility is continuing to grow as well, he said. Most recently, a skateboard repair station was installed courtesy of the Capital Regional District. Price said the Kiwanis Club has donated $25,000 for the development of a seating plaza — which will be built in the future. Those were only a few of the many generous donations Price mentioned during the opening event.

During the event, sculptor Paul Harder joined the dignitaries to unveil his work, “Board Dog,” in a new location — and with a new name. Board Dog had been part of the Sidney Sculpture Walk along the waterfront, but a community effort to raise money succeeded in purchasing it — at a discount, thanks to Harder — and installing it at the skate park.

The sculpture has been renamed “Ollie” — both for the name of a skateboard trick and for a bulldog Harder said was the inspiration for his art.

Following the big reveal, and a ribbon cutting, the Town provided pizza for the gathered youth.

Earlier this year, the Town generated a lot of comments on social media after it announced they wanted the park to remain graffiti-free. According to Town staff, the park has been clean since it opened and people’s overall response to that has been positive. Recently, the Town installed a camera near the skate park. It will be a web cam, according to staff, allowing people to see what’s happening in the park — and have the added bonus of acting as a security camera.

 

Derek Newman and Sidney Mayor Steve Price cut the ribbon as youth look on, during the grand opening of the new skate park in Tulista Park on July 2. (Steven Heywood/News staff)

Sculptor Paul Harder (from left), Derek Newman (who at 17 was instrumental in creating Sidney’s first skate park), Sidney Mayor Steve Price, Canada 150 events coordinator Kenny Podmore and Langford Mayor Stewart Young (whose Sidney-based companies donated to the sculpture) unveil ‘Ollie’ in Sidney new skate park on July 2. (Steven Heywood/News staff)

A group of young scooter-riders sit and listen to the grand opening speeches. (Steven Heywood/News staff)