Design, site approved for new Elora Skatepark

ELORA – Centre Wellington council has decided on the design and location of the township’s new Elora skatepark. 

Council received the full report at its April 23 committee of the whole meeting and passed the motion at its April 29 council meeting.

The park, designed by New Line Skateparks Inc., will be located on the south side of the Elora Community Centre grounds, beyond the baseball diamond’s outfield fence, roughly aligned with left-centre field.

This location was preferred by Centre Wellington staff, the Community Services Advisory Committee and some residents living close to the community centre.

However, the Centre Wellington Skatepark Association, which raised $62,092 of the total $430,000 for the project, preferred a site located in the northeast quadrant of the community centre grounds, close to David Street and the picnic centre and playground. 

Centre Wellington Skatepark Association member Laura Carrie said the group would like council to defer its decision until it can review the results of an online survey, promoted through social media, which had about 130 respondents as of April 22. Carrie said about 88 per cent of respondents preferred the option closer to David Street. 

However, Paul Dekking, who lives across from the Elora Community Centre on David Street said he likely would have filled out the survey had he known about it.

“A lot of the people who are living across the road are retired and may not be on social media,” he said. “So who was informed of that survey?

“I don’t know how relevant that survey really is at this point, not having been aware of it myself.”

The preferred skatepark design will cost $362,000, leaving $68,000 for other associated expenses, HST, the completed land survey, geotech, landscaping, signage and a contingency plan, explained managing director of corporate service Pat Newson. 

The funding sources are:

– skate park association fundraising $62,092;

– development charges $157,500; 

– township reserves $7,112; and 

– McDonald Trust Fund $203,296.

Based on public input the concrete skatepark will include: a wedge shape with three elevation changes. There will be a four-foot back-and-forth half pipe mini ramp, a set of five stairs, bank ramps, rail, hubba ledge down, up gap, table top, flat ground rail and flat ground wedge, according to landscape architect and senior design manager for New Line Skateparks Inc., Bill Gurney. 

The park is suitable for skateboards, scooters and BMX bikes.

“One real positive note from last week is we reaffirmed … that we were able to … deliver the design and construction of this park on budget,” Gurney said.

Part of the skatepark funding came from the MacDonald Trust Fund. 

To receive the $203,296 the Centre Wellington  Skatepark Association and the township signed an agreement in 2018 that said the park would be located at the Elora Community Centre. The decision was made through a public process. 

The agreement stated, “The township shall determine the precise location of the land taking into consideration multiple users of the skatepark, the potential future growth of the skatepark components and complementary recreation design for the site and the Elora Community Centre as a whole,” Newson said. 

Both options at the Elora Community Centre left room on the grounds for potential growth and expansion of the centre. 

“The township needs to consider the impact of this [Elora] park on everyone, including the residents, and the township must consider all factors in making this decision,” Newson said.

He added the advantage of the David Street option is that it’s visible, has good access for park users, allows for the preferred design in the space and has good construction access. 

However, the location is close to residential properties, has no growth potential, is close to David Street, situated so youth may take over the Optimist Pavillion and disrupt other park users (families with young children may hear and see things that are not age appropriate.) 

Noise is a concern for residences that will be in close proximity to the skatepark, with the noise from wheels and boards landing on concrete reaching neighbours.

“I believe every concern from the public should be valued as significant, of course, but I also believe that it is misleading to claim that noise concerns are legitimate,” Carrie said.

“Research shows noise complaints go unrealized after skateparks are installed.”

Councillor Kirk McElwain said there’s a natural berm between the skatepark and the residents on David street. 

“I personally don’t think that any noise from this skatepark is going to be very noticeable on the other side of the road because of the berm,” McElwain said. 

“So I don’t see that as a reason to move the park away from that area.” 

He said he’s still concerned about the safety of the outfield site because of “close proximity to the walking trails and fence by the Elora Gorge.”

Councillor Steven VanLeeuwen asked whether there could be any noise mitigation measures added to the David Street site. 

Newson said a noise barrier would also become a visual barrier. 

Wellington County OPP constable Jennifer Tschanz was concerned with proximity to David Street. 

She said there is a possibility traffic could be impacted on Wellington Road 7 and David Street. 

“It didn’t appear to be a fairly large distance between the roadway sidewalk and then into where that site would begin,” she said. 

Tschanz also agreed skateboard park participants could use vulgar language around the pavilion and the playground that could be offensive. 

“I can visualize a lot of activates and gatherings under the pavilion, as well as behaviours … we may all want to imagine kids when they are not supervised directly by adults,” she said.

Carrie said the skatepark association worries younger users aged 10 to 14 won’t be able to use the site behind the outfield independently. 

“Due to lack of visibility and increased chance of negative peer influence, families with younger children may be less likely to use the site … because of the divide from current playground, the potential for territorial feel and separated spaces,” she said. 

“I know constable Shantz mentioned the idea that maybe the pavilion could be used by youth. Isn’t that what it’s there for?” 

She said it’s a place for people to gather. 

“It’s there to bring the communities together,” Carrie said. “If youth are there in that pavilion that’s something that should be celebrated because they’re in a safe space.” 

In the space beyond the outfield, Newson said the skatepark would be further from the roadway, offer safe youth access and be located far from residential properties. 

“It’s good visibility while allowing youth enhanced space,” Newson said. “The design preferred will fit in the space, good construction access and great access to future building expansion in the south parking lot and allows us some space if we were to allow a BMX track in the future near the skatepark.”

Tschanz also said this option was visible and had good sightlines from across the park. 

The challenge with the outfield location is the perception that it would be unsafe and that youth are being excluded from the other park amenities. 

Councillor Stephen Kitras asked whether a shelter would be included at the outfield site. 

Newson said the skateboard consultant is only responsible for the park, the township is responsible for landscaping. Once the project is built the township will look at landscaping options, funding and donations.  

Newson said if council approves it, security cameras will be installed at both the Elora and Fergus skateparks to enhance safety.

“Motion sensor lights … will go on at night to alert anybody in the area that there’s people there when the park is closed,” Newson said. 

Tschanz said motion sensored lights would work as an alert for OPP officers too. 

The township has also looked at a paved park path to allow police and emergency access.

Carrie said all of the additional security measures will require additional costs and equipment installation.

Councillor Neil Dunsmore asked whether the skatepark could grow and expand in the David Street location. 

Gurney said the preferred design is as big of a park as will fit. The space beyond the ball diamond has more room for expansion. 

Dunsmore also asked what would happen if the decision was deferred. 

Newson said construction would need to be pushed into 2020. 

“We really hope to make a decision … in April so that we can … break ground in June and have our grand opening at the end of September,” she said.

Councillor Bob Foster put forward a motion to defer the decision and send it back to the Community Services Advisory Committee because he’d heard valid objections to both options. 

He asked the committee to look for additional site options. His motion did not receive a seconder. 

Council passed the motion to approve the design and location in the outfield with Mayor Kelly Linton, councillor Ian MacRae, VanLeeuwen and Dunsmore in favour and Kitras, McElwain and Foster opposed.