Location of New Westminster Skateboard park stirs up controversy

When my son was a bit younger, one of his favourite places to hang out was the local skateboard park. When I heard the new high school would eventually result in the relocation of this public amenity, I remember thinking how critical it would be to involve our community – in particular the users of the park – when it comes to determining the new location.

That’s why Council’s decision to consider moving the skateboard park next to the Bernie Legge Theatre in Queen’s Park took me a bit by surprise. On the surface, a move to Queen’s Park would seem to make sense. However, when you look at the actual location council has chosen, there are some good arguments as to why this location is far from optimal.

Skateboard park adjacent to the New West Secondary School may be about to make a move next to Bernie Legge Theatre in Queen’s Park

Similar to the online petition I started asking for a new arena to be constructed in Queen’s Park, another grassroots group has now emerged asking for council to listen to their concerns. This is what they’ve posted on their online petition website:

“Vagabond Players has been a part of New Westminster for over 80 years and has been proud to be located in Queens Park since 1950. We were left shocked and disturbed to discover that the City of New Westminster has approved a proposal “in-principal” for the relocation of an outdoor skate park to the former Arenex building site, immediately adjacent to our home, The Bernie Legge Theatre.

We have evening performances at 8pm and 2pm matinees. Any noise from outside echoes and reverberates throughout our lobby and auditorium. We have benefited greatly from being at the quiet end of this family-friendly park. Up until last year, we were behind a gymnastics building known as the Arenex. It was an indoor facility, so being located behind it, we retained a still, quiet and peaceful atmosphere amid garden-like surroundings. In December 2016, the Arenex roof collapsed and the building was left a heap of rubble. Now, a year later, the City wants to relocate a skate park to that site.

Vagabond Players would be unable to compete with the noise coming from an unsupervised outdoor facility. It would ruin our performances.

We have a loyal patron base made up of theatre lovers of all ages including a high number of senior citizens, some of whom use walkers or wheelchairs to get from their cars to their seats in our auditorium. They do not want to have to contend with skaters speeding by as they arrive nor would they feel comfortable or safe leaving after dark, under such circumstances. Many of our patrons would be significantly deterred from attending our performances.

In short, relocating the skate park next to the theatre would result in the death of our long-standing theatre society. Please help us by signing and sharing this petition.”

What do you think council should do? If you want to sign the petition, you can click here.

In a response posted online about a week ago, Mayor Jonathan Cote says no final decision has been made and staff are open to hearing from the community regarding the final location.