Skatepark project moves forward

Shaun Demarcke (left) and Russell Chase help strip copper to be sold to benefit the BMX/Skate Park project last week. Photo courtesy of Louise Schumann

Shaun Demarcke (left) and Russell Chase help strip copper to be sold to benefit the BMX/Skate Park project last week.
Photo courtesy of Louise Schumann

Nearly all the pieces are falling into place for the Hay River BMX/Skatepark Committee, with the site ready for work and the plan to see the new facility open by this fall.

“Now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, we have the plans, we just need to get the funding behind it,” said Louise Schumann, the park’s main proponent. “We’ve been doing little fundraisers to keep things going, but now we need something big.”

The committee, however, has recently seen a windfall in the support from Diavik’s copper project, the same deal that the Lights On program received last year. Essentially, the mine donates wiring to a group who processes it for sale and keeps the proceeds. The committee expects to make at least $35,000. With the municipality kicking in $150,000, the group is still looking to make up the shortfall of about $35,000 to complete the project.

“We’re so excited,” said Schumann. “This has been a long time coming and we’re so excited to be this close.”

The park is set to be built in the lot behind the NWT Centennial Library and town hall. It will consist of modular equipment – already purchased though not entirely paid for – on a wide asphalt pad, complete with lighting and security cameras. The group went before council most recently last winter to pitch their concept and secure a contribution agreement from the town, and have since awarded the contract for site preparation to Carter Industries. Schumann said they are lucky to have secured the company’s help as part of the deal is that some work would be done as an in-kind donation. She also added that there are many companies in Hay River that have stepped up to help get the project off the ground.

“If all goes as planned, we want to be able to showcase the new facility at this year’s X-Games,” she said. “We know it’s ambitious, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t happen.”

The X-Games – formerly known as Skate Jam – is an opportunity for Hay River skateboarders, BMXers, and scooter-riders to compete against each other as well as those from other communities. This year’s games are tentatively scheduled for Sept. 6.

“We want to make it more of an event,” Schumann said, adding that she would also like to see food vendors and some bands attend. “Make it more of a grand opening and invite other communities to come too.”

Schumann said that ideally, she would like to see the park used by any and all interested in the sport and thanked the town’s recreation department for being a solid partner. She said the committee hopes to be able to fund some equipment to be added to the town’s free-rental program so that kids who don’t have a skateboard or a bike can still make use of the facility.

“We’re all about encouraging safe, outdoor recreation for kids,” said the director of recreation Ian Frankton. “It’s a great initiative, and it compliments the current multi-use facility and adds that extra outdoor piece to the recreation masterplan.”

The committee hopes to bridge the funding gap by asking residents and companies to help out with either in-kind help or donations. The committee is hosting a dance June 7 with hopes it will make a large dent in the remaining amount to be raised.

“We’ve been so lucky that the town and the community have been so supportive so far,” said Schumann. “It’s a big deal. Now we just need to community to come out and support us just a bit more.”

-Sarah Ladik