Final phase of skatepark coming to an end

Over a million dollars of work poured into project

After two years, multiple open houses and at least eight design iterations, the final piece of Whistler Skatepark is being poured this month.

Work on Phase 3 of the park started last August. Weather permitting, Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) officials aim to lay out the concrete this month with an opening date around early summer. The work marks the end of a lengthy process, Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said.

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“The upgrade is long overdue and we wanted to ensure that what we were doing was something that the skateboarding community actually wanted,” she said.

Preliminary design work on the tail end of the park, which aims to reduce dead ends, began in 2014. Two open houses, including one with standing room only, were held and online feedback was received from the skating community. The municipality has sunk approximately a million dollars into the project, Wilhelm-Morden said. The RMOW also received an $807,600 grant from the province’s Resort Municipality Initiative for the park and $100,000 from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation.

The work marks the final piece of the park, with the initial phase kicking off in 1991. The original building blocks include the snake run and bowl, Wilhelm-Morden said, noting that the municipality backed what was considered a controversial project at the time. The effort has paid off, she added, noting the facility serves a significant local skateboarding community in Whistler and guests visiting the resort.

“Apparently the snake run is considered the best snake run in the world and that is really quite remarkable,” Wilhelm-Morden said.

The park is better off because of the amount of conversation and revisions that occurred, said Jim Barnum, the president of the company Spectrum Skateparks Inc. — the company tasked with building Phase 3. Local skateboarders raised questions and concerns rather than simply sitting back and complaining, Barnum said.

Phase 3 of the project adds “street-style” elements to the park, Barnum added, noting that style of skateboarding is one of the most popular forms of skating.

“The excellent, highly visible location, also adds a new level of dialogue between skaters and the rest of the community,” he said, adding Phase 3 is also more welcoming to less advanced skaters.

The park as a whole is definitely one of the top five skate facilities in the province, Barnum said.

“Depending on your particular taste it is arguably in the top three,” he said. “I’m hoping that the overriding sensation is going to be flow.”

Once the concrete is poured, it needs to sit for up to 21 days before anyone can skate on it, Wilhelm-Morden said. Skating on the concrete prior to this can permanently damage the surface, she warned.

“We can’t let anybody on the park during in those 21 days,” Wilhelm-Morden emphasized.

RMOW officials are planning a grand opening once construction dates have been firmed up.

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