The Town is looking at options to handle concerns arising from the Sylvna Lake Skate Park starting with a public engagement session, planned for early October. File Photo

Engaging community about problems at skate park a step in the right direction says local parent

The Town of Sylvan Lake is planning a public engagement session for the skate park for early October

Sylvan Lake Town Council and administration is planning to hold an information and engagement session regarding the outdoor skate park.

The engagement session is being planned for the beginning of October, as a way to combat concerns from local parents.

The session is opened to users of the park as well as parents to discuss what is expected behaviour as well as options Council is considering to enforce safety and preferable behaviour.

Crystal Rhyan-Koch, a skate board parent who recently made a proposal to Council regard the outdoor skate park, says an engagement session is a good first step.

“I think it is important to talk to those who use the park. You won’t find out what is wrong unless you talk to those that are there,” said Ryan-Koch.

However, Ryan-Koch hopes to see something more come out of the engagement session, and that Council will seriously consider her proposal, which includes hiring a seasonal position to oversee the park.

Rhyan-Koch outlined costs for the seasonal position and suggested grants be applied for to cover the costs.

“This has been an incredibly helpful and well received program in many other cities, and I think it could really benefit Sylvan Lake,” she said.

Rhyan-Koch based her proposal on similar programs found in Edmonton, Calgary and Medicine Hat.

“Just because we are a smaller town doesn’t mean our kids should want for something or have to travel to a larger city to get it,” she said.

Before bringing her proposal to Council, Rhyan-Koch took to Facebook commenting in many local groups to gather thoughts and opinions on the skate park.

She even took time to talk to many users personally, some older teenagers and others older in the 20-35 age range. Based on these discussions, she says her proposal is favoured by many users.

“Many of the older users have said they would actually be more likely to use the park if there was someone there,” said Rhyan-Koch.

“I don’t think it is correct to assume hiring someone would drive the skaters away into other parts of the community.”

Based on her research, Rhyan-Koch has been looking into grants, both federally and provincially, to fund the project. In doing so she has been in contact with Youth Unlimited to partner and extend the program already in use at Incline to the out door parks.

A large reason for this is because grant approval needs a non-profit organization to apply.

And, Rhyan-Koch says those who run the program are already respected by the skaters in Sylvan Lake.

“There is money out there for programs like this, and much of it isn’t being used. A grant could potentially cover the entire cost of my proposal,” she said.

She proposes a three year pilot program to see how a seasonal hire at the skate park will benefit Sylvan Lake.

“It’s all good to say parents have to be there to watch their kids, but that isn’t always possible or feasible. This way there is a mature and responsible person there to help should anything happen.”

Town Council will receive recommendations for the skate park after the engagement session. They are expected to make a decision regarding parent concerns at the Oct. 22 meeting of Council.

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