The dream of a concrete skateboard park in Yorkton has just had an important step towards becoming a reality. The Aviva Community Fund contest awarded the city with $150,000 to make the project a reality. That money was matched by the City of Yorkton, and an additional $50,000 was given by the Community Initiatives Fund. That means $350,000 has already been raised for the project.
Mayor James Wilson says that this project is something that is needed as the city works towards promoting a more active and healthy community.
“The city recognizes that a healthy community is a priority, and that’s one of the key goals that we have and are working towards. Initiatives such as this, a skateboard, bike and walking park, provides citizens the ability to get out and get active. Of course, the priority is youth, we value our youth and see this as an investment in our youth, and truly in a sense it happened because of our youth, and the youth involvement in getting behind this,” Wilson says.
Aaron Kienle a volunteer who worked on the social media aspect of the campaign, says that having a new skate park coming to the city is almost unbelievable, and has been something he has been hoping to see since he was much younger.
“Back then, being a little skate kid, and dreaming of one day having a plaza, I’m not even sure it was a dream at that point, I didn’t think it was a possibility.”
While Kienle says that they are grateful for the park that is currently in place, and it has aged well, he says that the new concrete park will allow for greater growth in the city’s skaters, and offer “endless possibilities” to both people learning to skate and those more experienced in the sport.
“The same kind of place where we go to Regina to skate or to Brandon to skate we’re going to have in our own community. For the future of skateboarding, and even just kids getting active, this is going to be a huge part. As a concrete plaza, it’s not going anywhere, it’s going to be a good look for the city and it’s also going to be a great thing for kids to have in the future,” he notes.
The next step is getting the plans in place and finding a firm to design and build the park. Kienle says that the firms who build these plazas are skateboarders themselves, and the design will be something which will fill the city with pride.
“These plazas are a great piece of architecture, and a beautiful part of the community. If you look at the one in Regina or Brandon they’re a great look for the city. It’s going to be awesome and we’re all going to benefit,” Kienle says.
Dave Nussbaumer of Farrell Agencies was the broker who supported the submission. He says that the project was something the community could get behind, and as the support built over the months it was good to see.
“It’s a community thing, and I think we saw some naysayers when we first started out. We really just put them to rest and started to get a bit of momentum. Slow and steady won the race, and it was great to see everyone get involved,” Nussbaumer says.
While he doesn’t want to sound over-confident, he says he felt the submission for a skate park in the community was a winner from the beginning. He believes that having a long-lasting project that would benefit youth combined with the story of a community working to recover from a flood gave the submission a quality people could get behind.
“We had a good submission. I looked at those submissions every day since September 29 when we put ours online at work and if you tracked and followed it, not to take anything away from the other submissions, but ours was right up there,” Nussbaumer says.
Glenn Cooper, Public Relations Manager with Aviva Canada, says that giving out a total of $1 million through the Aviva Community Fund is something they do because it’s an extension of what the business is about.
“We’re in the business of helping people every day... We’re an insurer, we’re there to help them through that process and get them back to their pre-incident condition. So this is really an extension of how we help Canadians, and this is a real positive interaction we have with communities,” he says.
After the rounds of voting, the final decision is from a panel of judges. The judging is based on a set criteria, that being the impact to the community, likelihood of success, longevity and sustainability, originality and submission quality. Cooper says that the one thing known about the final group is that the community is behind the project, since they would not otherwise reach the round. He says Yorkton stood out for a few reasons.
“First, the area affected by the flood that happened in 2010, you’re installing a catch basin to basically prevent it from damaging that area again, so it protects not only that immediate area but the area right around it. Then, making a skateboard and walking trail, that’s great for the youth and the community at large, so you know that the youth are involved in positive activities. One of the other things was that the city was behind this as well. The city stepping up and saying if you get that $150,000 from the Aviva Community Fund we’ll match it, how great is that? And you see the enthusiasm of the organizers as well... All of that contributes to why Yorkton.”
One of the rules of the Aviva contest is that the project needs to happen within the next year. Right now, the tender is going out to skateboard companies. From the Aviva side, Cooper says they will be working with the city and the organizers as the funding takes place.
“We want to see it done, we want to come out and celebrate its completion,” Cooper concludes.