Colwood Mayor Rob Martin wants a skatepark on the West Shore badly enough that staff are now exploring options for the city to completely fund a longstanding, yet incomplete project itself.
Martin’s motion and request to staff to look into the issue, passed unanimously at a March 1 committee meeting, could potentially see the city budget an extra $650,000 for the project – a location is already designated at West Shore Parks and Recreation – on top of funding already committed by Colwood and other West Shore municipalities.
The mayor hopes pending grant applications for the skatepark project will be successful, thus negating the need for an additional contribution from the city to speed up the process.
“I thought it was really important, as we go through the budgetary cycle, that we anticipate as a council what we are going to do if grant applications are not successful,” Martin said. “That was the motivation of the motion I made, that staff bring back a report on funding options to fund the remaining portion of the skateboard park so we can actually get it built now.”
The project, in the works for five years or so, followed the closure of the skate park on the Belmont secondary lands in Langford prior to development. Over the years the projected construction cost of the new skatepark has doubled from the original estimate of $650,000 to nearly $1.3 million today.
Martin worries that further delays will see costs continue to rise and reach a point where it is no longer economically feasible.
If the grant applications are not successful, the city would likely approach other participating municipalities for help covering the funding shortfall. The mayor hopes, however, that Colwood council would support the worst-case scenario of having the city unilaterally cover the difference in cost.
While young people have many opportunities to be active and connect with their community through team activities, there are fewer options for those interested in non-team activities, and Martin said a skatepark is an ideal fit.
“It’s been a long time since we had a skateboard park, it is something that is really desired within the community. I hear about it a lot, so we need to move this forward.”
City staff will provide available options for council as the 2022-23 budget is finalized in the coming weeks. Martin said his understanding is the city has the reserves to fund the entire shortfall without impacting the expected property tax increase, or other projects already being discussed.