Update (July 11). . . Council reaffirmed its decision from a committee meeting Tuesday morning by voting in favor of Lambly Park as the location for a new skateboard park.
by Dave Preston
It appears Peachland council is set to once and for all approve Lambly Park as the location for a new skateboard facility.
Council voted in favor the Lambly Park location at a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday morning by a vote of three to two. Councillors Terry Condon and vern Moberg were absent, but Moberg is expected to attend the regular council meeting Tuesday night, where the committee vote will be up for ratification.
Moberg has come out in support of Lambly Park in the past.
About 40 people attended a consultation meeting on June 20, according to Cheryl Wiebe, director of community services.
“We received a fair amount of support and a fair amount of opposition,” Wiebe told council.
Wiebe said in 2003, there was very little support for a skateboard park in Peachland, but now there is quite a bit of support. Continuing to be a problem with the public is the location, according to Wiebe.
Earlier concerns with Lambly Park being adjacent to Hwy. 97 have now been mitigated by the installation of traffic lights, said Wiebe. She added that RCMP toured the site and expressed no concerns with safety.
There was a significant amount of opposition to the location at the open house, said Wiebe.
“Council is in a tough position,” she said.
One concern raised at the open house was that of increased vandalism in Lambly Park. Wiebe said council could choose to enact a good neighbor policy, where the town would take care of vandalism, primarily graffiti, on the district side of residents’ fences.
Skateboard wheels produce noise at about 70 decibels, while highway traffic rates 85 decibels, according to Wiebe.
“There will be mroe noise in the park because we are inviting people to play there,” Wiebe said.
In reference to another concern raised at the open house, Wiebe said she was provided with a study by Newline Skateparks that suggests there is no evidence that property values go down after a skate park is built in a neighborhood.
Coun. Cindy Fortin asked what could be done about washrooms if Lambly Park was chosen for a skate park. Wiebe said that would not be addressed immediately, but could be part of a long term plan.
Fortin also asked how it is that Cousins Park was chosen as the location for a skate park last decade, but Lambly Park is now the recommended location.
Wiebe said documents show the town’s risk manager had the same concerns about Cousins Park years ago — that fly balls could hit skateboarders.
“The more people using the facility, then there would be less vandalism,” said Coun. Peter Schierbeck. “I feel the kids using a skate park would not be the vandals.”
Coun. Eldon Kerbes wondered if the proposed size of 5,000 square feet would be big enough to make a challenging, interesting skate park.
Wiebe said Peachland does not have the funding to build a $600,000 project at this time. Newline Skateparks has proposed building a street scape park, which is unique and not found anywhere else in the valley.
Coun. Eric Hall said everyone wants youth to be a very important part of the community, but major developments proposed will be made up mostly of townhomes and apartments and that means Peachland will continue to be a senior’s community.
“I think in this case… we made a mistake,” said Hall, adding the money should be used toward a new fire hall or other amenity.
Mayor Keith Fielding said he feels a skate park is absolutely a priority, as young people have, repeatedly over the years, made it a priority.
Council voted on a motion reaffirming Lambly Park as the location for a skate park. Fielding, Kerbes and Schierbeck voted in favor of the motion, while Hall and Fortin were opposed.
The exact location is to be south of the existing tennis courts.