LETHBRIDGE: The city's new council was introduced to an old story Monday, as the Lethbridge Skateboard Park Association came to city hall for a second time in less than a year.
Spokesperson Wade Galloway says the issue dates back as far as 2001, when a couple of elementary school children tried to lobby council for a new park. They told council then that the existing park, located in North Lethbridge, is hard to get to if you don't live in that area.
Now a decade later, the skateboard community is still asking.
"When we came to council in August, they were largely blindsighted by it. Administration had failed to bring forward what we'd been telling them," said Galloway.
After the association's presentation in August, council directed city staff to investigate the details of a new skateboard park more thoroughly - to scout locations, cost estimates and funding opportunities. Staff have prepared some information and will bring forward a "master plan" for the issue in April. Aldermen offered tentative support for the project Monday, including Ald. Jeff Coffman who encouraged his colleagues to strike a steering committee after the presentation.
The skateboarding community says they're more heartened by council's response this time around, but they still have questions.
"We have some concerns about the timing and other issues associated with it. It's important that when it does come back before council if they are going to support it, that it does become a priority and that it's moved forward at a rapid pace," said Galloway.
The association has raised about $5,000 in funding for the project already, and they've identified other sources of funding, including $667,000 set aside for a streetscaping project several years ago that never went ahead. There's also a government grant available to community groups for a project like this, but the skateboard park association can't apply for the funding unless the project has firm details and a timeline in place.
"They spent a million dollars upsizing the West Side gym through MRSR so is there money in the MRSR - absolutely," said Galloway. "The issue has never been that there wasn't money. The issue is that there wasn't money for a skateboard park."
Council indicated they may earmark funding or strike a steering committee after the staff presentation on a skateboard park master plan Monday, April 4.