ANTIGONISH: It may have been a long time coming, some 30-years in the works, but the construction of a world-class skate park is finally within view for the community of Antigonish.
Reaching this point has taken persistent drive from the community, and a partnership that included the County and Town of Antigonish, StFX University, and the Antigonish Skatepark Collective.
Warden Owen McCarron said a skate park adds to an already impressive recreation package that the community offers.
“This is another example of what is possible when we all – County, Town, StFX, and community – work together,” he said. “When you step back and look at it, it’s a special thing when you can accomplish that level of commitment and cooperation from three important sectors of our community.”
Constructing a skate park can shape a community and sends an important signal to youth about their value to the community.
“The creation of a skate park will show that the community does value our youth, typically an underserviced group,” Matt Schumacher of the Skatepark Collective said. “We’re providing the resources they desire so they may experience more joy living in Antigonish.”
Schumacher said the collective feels a skate park is vital for Antigonish as they are commonplace among many current, vibrant, progressive communities.
Mayor Laurie Boucher said through the Engage Antigonish session the town conducted, this attitude was echoed from our youth.
“Our young people are searching for spaces to hang out that are fun, free, and easily accessible,” she said. “I think this project shows we are listening and taking the opinions of our youth seriously when they were asked ‘How can we make Antigonish a place that you are proud to call home?’”
An agreement in which StFX generously agreed to lease land along West Street to construct the skate park was recently reached. The 11,000 square-foot location was selected due to its visibility, ease of access, and its proximity to the RCMP station, which ensures the skate park will be a safe place for its users.
The lease agreement for the park is the standard minimum of 19-years.
President of StFX, Dr. Kent MacDonald said the university has been very deliberate to support efforts that will help improve the mental and physical health of our community.
“A world-class skate park is another example of StFX University’s belief that supporting healthy living brings a range of positive benefits to our community.”
Partnerships like this one are successful when everyone is pulling in the same direction, Mayor Boucher said.
“That sense of common purpose is accomplished when we truly achieve trust among those involved,” she said. “In my experience, this is among one of the finest examples of all sides coming together to deliver an important asset to our community – especially to the youth of the community.”
If all goes as planned, the community could see a skate park by next summer. The town will be leading the procurement process and anticipates issuing a request for proposals for a design/build within the next month.
A commitment is in place to have funding shared among the partners.
At this stage, the project has already received an anonymous donation of $200,000, leaving an estimated $500,000 more to go to achieve the initial vision for the park.
The Antigonish Skatepark Collective will begin a fund-raising campaign to help reach the funding amount to achieve this vision. To find out how you can get involved please e-mail Schumacher at: firstname.lastname@example.org.