MEDICINE HAT, AB – It was less than four months ago that the Medicine Hat Skateboard Association came to the City of Medicine Hat with an idea, wanting to build a number of smaller accessible skate spots.
Thanks to some good weather recently, local skaters were able to celebrate the opening of the first of those skate spots.
On Saturday, members of the Medicine Hat Skateboard Association and local politicians, including Mayor Ted Clugston and MPs Bob Wanner and Drew Barnes, were on hand at Saamis Rotary Park for the grand opening of the new project.
The integrated skate spot includes a rail and ledge, along with two boxes on either side for the more experienced skaters.
Skateboard Association volunteer Joshua Swanson designed the skate spot and served as the project manager over the last few months.
Swanson said access to the main skate park in the Kin Coulee dip can be tough for some on the south side of the city and added this is a good alternative for them.
“Kids from this sub-community don’t have to try to find a ride or walk like 20 blocks down to a skate park,” said Swanson. “They can just walk across the street and have somewhere skate, it’s pretty amazing.”
When presenting to the city back in June, the Skateboard Association said the main skate park was becoming overcrowded and more skaters were choosing to ride in the downtown core.
That posed some issues in terms of interactions between skateboarders and the general public, leading to a compromise with the integrated skate spots.
Community support for the project has been overwhelming according to organizers, as many construction groups and landscapers have either donated resources or discounts to make the skate spot possible.
Swanson said their group has done a lot with community groups and charitable organizations over the last few years and it was nice to see groups giving back to a project that meant a lot to them.
“Especially in the beginning, it was a bit of an uphill battle to change the perception that skateboarders had as kind of vandalizing, rough, on the fringe of society-type culture,” he said. “But, I think that’s changed a lot and it continues to change.”
Funding for the $34,000 project came most from the Alberta government’s Community Facility Enhancement Program and the City of Medicine Hat, with the remainder made up from the Saamis Rotary Club.
Construction on the skate spot was lightning quick as well, with the full project being completed in just five days last week.
Swanson said it’s amazing to see the community come together to complete a project in such a small period of time.
“Just the fact that we also thought this wasn't going to happen until next summer because of weather and just bringing all the details together,” said Swanson. “And then, the fact that within a week everyone came together, sponsors, landscapers, concrete people to just pull this together it's pretty surreal, it's awesome.”
Thanks to the funding, Swanson is hoping to construct one to two more skate spots per year in Medicine Hat over the next five years.
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