The Town of Blackfalds is proceeding with its plan to install leftover skatepark equipment in the Pine Crescent neighborhood.
Council voted unanimously to include the park as part of a larger recreation development in the neighbourhood on Tuesday night. Coun. Marina Appel was absent for the meeting.
The skatepark was last before council in May, when Pine Crescent residents presented council with a petition opposing the development.
Council requested statistics from RCMP and municipal enforcement on incidents at the park's previous location adjacent to the Multi-Plex from 2009-18.
From 2010-18, there were 53 calls to the Multi-Plex, with 15 related to the skatepark. The calls were for “parking, vandalism, and various other reasons,” according to a memo from protective services manager Ken Morrison.
The memo continues, “When looking at statistics, these numbers are relatively small considering the number of youth that would be using the skate park at any given time. On average, with the RCMP and Municipal Enforcement statistics this would equate to approximately 2.77 calls per year to the skate park.”
Coun. Jamie Hoover is a resident in the neighbourhood and once had similar concerns as those opposed. But after seeing the numbers, he came to the same conclusion as Morrison.
“It really didn’t support the fears that people had. I understand people’s perception. I live in that neighbourhood as well. My initial perception was it was going to be a concern for the neighbourhood. Some people wouldn’t like it, maybe it would increase complaints,” Hoover said.
During the meeting, Coun. Will Taylor said that the original skatepark was built to give youth something to do, to keep them out of trouble. He added it would be unfair to generalize all park users based on the bad behaviour of a few.
For those unswayed, town administration will continue to monitor the area and respond to any complaints until the end of September 2019. The skatepark would then be reviewed by the recreation board and council.
As well, council passed a second motion to make a stretch of Pioneer Way a playground zone, effective from the south portion of the park to the start of Coleman Crescent.
“Our bylaw enforcement is aware that people are concerned. I think additional attention’s going to be paid to that area because of the speed limit change in particular,” Hoover said.
“But I think we’ll go further. We’ll monitor whether or not there’s more complaints than normal. We will be open to people sending us information and concerns or hopefully some praise.”
The Pine Crescent skatepark is part of the last phase of a $385,000 recreation development in the area, which started in 2013. Other amenities will include a playground, picnic tables and an outdoor rink.
Equipment that came from the Multi-Plex location is intended for young and novice users, with five to seven years’ life expectancy remaining. It was rendered surplus when the Optimist All Wheels Park was built.
According to the briefing note from administration, council had tried selling the equipment after the summer of 2017 but many residents urged them over social media to relocate it instead.
The recreation board considered four locations, including Centennial Park, East School Site and McKay Ranch. It recommended Pine Crescent to council on January 9.
“Our biggest concern when it comes to developing in our community is making everyone feel included,” Hoover said. “Going back to public consultation years ago, it was clear the community wanted some development for our youth in that area.”