Special to The Chronicle
Oliver is close to winning $100,000 to make the community a better place for children and youth.
The “Small Wheels Playground” project – an initiative to rejuvenate the aging skatepark – has been chosen as one of six finalists in BCAA’s Play Here contest. Whether we win the big bucks or not comes down to how big a heart our community is willing to show.
For each of the past four years, BCAA has held an annual play space revitalization contest for B.C. communities. This year, more than 200 community projects applied to the program, each hoping to get a share of the $330,000 prize pool. A panel of judges reviewed the applications and found the Small Wheels Playground revitalization project worthy of being a finalist.
The next phase of the contest comes down to voting: the three community projects that receive the most online public votes between now and midnight on June 23 will receive $100,000 each towards achieving their overall project goal.
Helping our little town win the $100,000 prize is as simple as visiting www.bcaaplayhere.com. Voting is easy and open to anyone over the age of 19. Each voter may vote once each day on each of Facebook, Twitter, Google and email, resulting in a maximum of four votes per person per day between now and June 23.
Have you taken a stroll past the Oliver skatepark lately? If you look quickly you’d notice the play space is usually near empty. Although there are more than 1,000 kids around town and many visiting families coming through each year, very few use the existing park. If you took a closer look, you’d see why: The skatepark was built in 2000 in memory of Joel Waines, a local teen and passionate skateboarder who died in a tragic accident. While the park was built with tremendous community support, the facility had some design flaws right from the start, and when combined with age and wear-and-tear, many of these features have been deemed unsafe or impossibly difficult. Today, 19 years later, virtually every feature is bent, uneven, rusted out or crumbling.
Our town is a beautiful, friendly, welcoming place but provides limited activity options for local youth. According to 16-year-old skateboarder James Typusiak: “This (skatepark) is the only real spot that kids can just stay, but there aren’t that many good things to do here.” Research shows skateparks do incredible good for communities. They offer kids a legitimate space to exercise, socialize and have fun. They 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. And they help keep kids safe: skateboarding and scootering inside a skatepark is far less likely to result in injury than rolling in the street or parking lots. They give kids something to do and somewhere to go to learn valuable life skills, reducing boredom-induced problems. And, they show kids that their community is willing to invest in them.
Oliver Parks and Recreation (OPRS) staff have been working since 2014 to make an improved skatepark a reality, and the project has reached “shovel-ready” status: concept designs are done, quotes complete, budget finalized. To date, the OPRS has raised almost $25,000 of the $260,000 project budget thanks to the support of the Oliver community.
The plan includes using the original concrete slab and replacing virtually all of the ramps and other features. The desire is to install new street-style features that are fun for all ages, skill levels and abilities and will service multiple kinds of wheels.
Vote early and vote often. If every eligible voter in Oliver and Area C voted two times a day for 20 days, we would have more than 280,000 votes!