Go ahead given for Huxley skatepark and tot lot

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, January 31 2017

Huxley Community Park will have a “tot lot” playground built, and the design phase of the skatepark will be finished by the end of 2017.

That according to Howard Houle, Regional District of Nanaimo Director for Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge and DeCourcy islands).

Houle has also said there will be no more waiting on grants to get the skatepark built.

“Applying for grants, that could mean another couple of years. If I can come up with the money, then let’s do “er.”

Asked if he meant to use some of Gabriola’s Community Works funds, Houle said, “Yes.”

He and Elaine McCulloch, RDN Parks Planner, were presenting an update on Huxley Park to the Gabriola and Mudge members of the Area B Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Committee (POSAC).

McCulloch said the two skateboard companies she had been working with, Spectrum and New Line, have amalgamated and received the design contract for the Huxley Skatepark.

“We’re very excited we’re going to start that.”

Public input will also begin, McCulloch hopes, sometime in February.

“The first thing we will do is talk to youth and users of the skatepark. Talk to what they want, the elements they want.”

Test pits will be appearing in Huxley, as RDN staff work out what the substrate is to correspond with the concept plan for the skatepark.

Once the design companies have come up with the concept, McCulloch will bring it back to the public for further input. She is hoping that by the end of summer, the concept plan will be ready.

In the case of the Cedar Skatepark, it was at that point the RDN put the concept plan on a shelf and waited for grant money - but Houle has said he will push forward to get the skatepark built.

The Huxley Park playground, to be designed for children under the age of five, will be built by the end of this year. Houle and McCulloch said there have been grants in the amount of $5,000 from the Gabriola Lions’ Club and another $7,000 from the Nanaimo Foundation which will be used towards the tot lot.

For the rest of Huxley Park, McCulloch and Houle are still waiting on news with regards to the upgrades to the tennis and sport courts.

The hope is to also have those upgrades done by the end of this year.

They were asked at the POSAC meeting if there is any chance of expanding the tennis courts to have one more playing area.

Houle said the RDN looked at doing that but “the space isn’t there.”

McCulloch said the issue at Huxley is that there is “so much desire for so many things in that park. You can’t expand one thing without taking away from another thing.”