More than 100 people braved the cold on Sunday to celebrate the grand opening of the Pitt Meadows Youth Action Park, located next to Harris Road Park.
The park has been a long time coming for skaters and bikers in Pitt Meadows. It’s been more than three years since the old Pitt Meadows skate park was demolished to make way for the new Solaris development, and Sunday’s positive reception is a sign how much the community values its skate park, says Tony Cotroneo, youth services coordinator for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Parks and Leisure Services.
The $600,000 park is more than 14,500 square feet in size, making it slightly smaller than the Thomas Haney Youth Action Park, but a considerable upgrade over the old Pitt Meadows skate park it replaces.
While the Thomas Haney Youth Action Park is more of a street-style park, the Pitt Meadows park was designed to resemble the meadow-like setting of Pitt Meadows, with features that resemble drainages channels and ditches – all of it skate-able.
“There’s lots of gaps, lots of jumps, it’s faster,” Cotroneo said. “We wanted to make it a little different so Pitt Meadows could have something unique.”
Also included in the park’s design is a stage that can be used to host outdoor musical performances at the park. Cotroneo said the skate park provides good bang for the buck, given how many can use the park at once.
“A hockey rink might have 30 people using it, but only 10 are on the ice at the same time,” he said. “On a sunny day, we’ll see 40, 50 kids at Thomas Haney, and they are all using the park.”
Skate parks also offer young people on-demand recreation options.
“Unlike a field or a rink, you don’t have to book it months in advance,” he said. “The thing about skateboarding and biking, is you can do it whenever you want.”
Throughout the planning process for the skate park, Cotroneo said he was struck by the number of people coming out to support the park, and not to protest it being built in their community.
“Initially, when we started the process for the Thomas Haney park, we did get that. People had fears about having a skate park next door,” he said. “But Thomas Haney has been a tremendous success, we didn’t get any of those complaints this time around.”
Cotroneo credits parks and leisure’s mentorship program at the Thomas Haney park with helping to improve the image of skate parks in general.
The mentors, the majority of whom are high school students, are taught conflict resolution techniques, first aid, leadership skills, and are paid a small honorarium for their time at the park.
“They are there to be role models for the younger park users,” Cotroneo said. “They’re there to help keep the park clean and teach park etiquette.”