Skier makes pitch for skatepark

Competitive freestyle skier Mason Barzilay wants West Kelowna youth to be active, and predicts a new skatepark may be one solution.

Barzilay spoke to West Kelowna council Tuesday evening to explain why West Kelowna needs a skatepark.

"One thing many kids like doing in West Kelowna is skateboarding," said Barzilay.

"A skatepark in West Kelowna could provide kids with a free, safe environment and a place they can enjoy the benefits of physical activity."

Barzilay, a three-time member of the BC Mogul Team, said she considers herself lucky to have played many different sports growing up. However, she said there is currently a lack of facilities for youth who are wanting to be active.

"Parents often can't afford to put their children in organized sports.

"A skatepark in West Kelowna would be a great investment for our community."

She said there are also safety concerns as West Kelowna skaters may practice their sport in parking lots or roadways until there is an adequate skatepark.

Barzilay added there is a demand for a skatepark. A Facebook group called West Kelowna Needs a Skatepark currently has 165 members.

The district's 10 year capital plan schedules design and construction of a skatepark for 2021. Preliminary estimates indicate the cost would be about $400,000.

Barzilay asked the district to set up a trust fund so dollars raised could go toward speeding up that process.

"This November it will be my second year hosting a Warren Miller ski movie to help raise funds for my skiing career.

"But this year I have committed to donate a percentage of my proceeds to…a new skatepark in West Kelowna."

Coun. Rick de Jong agreed there is a lack of things to do for youth in West Kelowna.

"Our skatepark that we currently have is in a sorry state of repair. It does need to be upgraded," said de Jong.

Mayor Doug Findlater said he sees "a very busy skateboard park" every time he drives through Peachland.

"Obviously there's a demand for it and lots of people who will use it," said Findlater.

Council unanimously voted to set up a trust account to hold donations for the purchase and installation of a skateboard park at Memorial Park.

"If we see the (trust fund) growing, I think that's a signal to council that there's demand there and we should be looking at changing some of our priories to move this up a few years from 2021," said Findlater.

Twitter: @PatersonWade



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