Plans for three new skateboard parks in Calgary are grinding to a halt — for this year at least.
City officials had hoped to establish “neighbourhood skateparks” to complement one existing year-round facility — Shaw Millennium Park — in the communities of Huntington Hills and Southwood as well as establish a smaller “skate spot” to serve the areas of Chinook Park, Kelvin Grove and Eagle Ridge. Construction was due to begin in August.
But Greg Steinraths, manager of sport development and partnerships for the city, said the bids from potential builders came in “substantially over” the $1.7 million allotted for the project.
“We have to be accountable stewards for the taxpayers’ dollar and we want to get the maximum value for our citizens,” he said, adding, “Recreation is so committed to these (parks) and they’re going to be a great part of our infrastructure when we move forward.”
Steinraths said the plan now is to re-tender the parks in early 2015 and hopefully have the sites ready later in the year. The city will also be hosting public engagement concerning five similar facilities — planned for Bowness, Edgemont, New Brighton, Deer Run and Midnapore — and could look at offering all eight sites as a package to a single builder. (To see designs for the initial three parks, click here.)
When asked about the steep bids, Steinraths said construction work appears to be picking up in the province and is verging on levels not seen since 2007. Still, he remained confident in the progress made to address what skateboard enthusiasts have said is a longstanding shortage of space for them to ride.
“From where we got started in 2014, we’re much further ahead,” Steinraths insisted.
But Zev Klymochko with the Calgary Association of Skateboard Enthusiasts said the delay was “disappointing,” noting it’s been three years since the city’s skateboard amenities strategy was developed.
“It’s something we thought was a lock for this year, that we’d be skating new parks,” he said. “To get hit with this, it’s like one thing after another it seems . . . it’s really unfortunate.”
Given the delay, Klymochko said he hoped city crews could at least venture to Shaw Millennium and repair numerous cracks that have formed in the park’s surface.