They say there are two certainties in life, but there is also a third in Oliver right now: skateboarders are chomping at the bit to start using the completed Small Wheels Park.
In fact, some have been sneaking through the construction fence to check out the new features.
The project has been five years in the making and has been finally realized this week.
Parks and Recreation manager Carol Sheridan said research shows skateparks are one of the best spaces for physical recreation. An hour on a skateboard is proven to have more fitness benefits than an hour playing basketball, she noted.
It also gives her peace of mind that skateboarding and scootering inside a skatepark is far less likely to result in injury than rolling in the street or parking lots.
And Larry Larson from the Kiwanis Club of Oliver wholeheartedly agreed. He recalled seeing a few skateboarders using various obstacles in front of downtown businesses. That was before the original skatepark was built in Lion’s Park. But now he doesn’t see hardly any skateboarders downtown.
“It takes them off the street and hopefully takes them out of danger skidding down walkways.”
Larson was on hand Wednesday to join the club in donating $40,000 to the Small Wheels Park, complementing the $10,000 it had donated previously.
That money came from the fruits of their labour at Kiwanis Market. Many thanks go out to the people who work there and those who support the market every Saturday.
After the project won $100,000 from the BCAA Play Here contest, the regional district pledged matching financial support for the $260,000 park.
Construction began October 22 and wrapped up Dec. 6
“It’s wonderful to see the park built and ready to go, not just a picture on a poster,” Sheridan said.
Fencing will be left standing throughout the winter months around the most sensitive exterior areas that need to be landscaped in the spring. As such, park users are asked to use the north and east access points as a temporary entrance into the facility.
Sheridan said the Small Wheels Park is unsupervised and park users should always consider the risks associated with riding.
All riders are strongly encouraged to wear protective gear such as a helmet and do their part to keep the park free of graffiti and garbage.
The concrete surface can become icy and wet during the winter months and riders are asked to steer clear of the park in these unsafe conditions.
Phase 2 of the project (landscaping, signage, recognition plaques, seating, lighting, etc.) will commence in early spring 2020.
Sheridan said funds will still be required to see the rest of the project through.
The official grand opening is being planned for mid-March 2020.