Sylvan Lake Councillor Megan Chernoff Hanson listens to the ideas of one skate park parent during the recent brain storming session for the Sylvan Lake Skate Park held by the Town. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Sylvan Lake wants to build a community around skate park users

Creating a safe place where everyone feels welcome key when deciding how to proceed with skate park

Parents, skateboarders, Town staff members, councillors and the generally public all came out to have their voices heard at a recent brainstorming session for the skate park.

Recently parents have voiced concerns over some behaviour witness at the Sylvan Lake Skate Park over the summer months.

Crystal Rhyan-Koch brought her concerns and suggestions to Town Council after speaking with other parents and users of the park. Her suggestion was to hire a seasonal staff member to man the park and provide a safe place for all users.

While Council accepted the proposal from Ryan-Koch they wanted to hear from the public.

During a brainstorming session held at Incline Industries last week, Town staff and members of Council were able to hear from those who use the skate park and are generally affected by it.

Mayor Sean McIntyre said the brainstorming session was just one step.

“We heard from a lot of people, and a lot of people who use the skate park of many different ages. From here we will compile the results of the session and staff will present their findings to Council at a future meeting,” McIntyre said.

It is hard to say what the suggestion from staff will be, as the brainstorming session held a variety of option and ideas that came forward.

For McIntyre, he wants to see a community be built around the skate park and those who use it.

“Just like there is a hockey community or a football community here in Sylvan Lake there is a skateboarding one as well,” he said. “Just like every other, the skateboarding community deserves to be acknowledge and served in Sylvan Lake.”

The skate park isn’t the problem, says Derrick Mitchinson who was the chairperson for the skate park committee. Instead he says the problem is just a few bad eggs.

He doesn’t want to see the group punished for the words and actions of a few.

“They are good people who just want to enjoy their space. Just like anywhere else there are those who make a bad name for the rest,” said Mitchinson.

Just like McIntyre, Mitchinson says a community needs to be built around those who utilize the skate park rather than punishing them.

The best way to do that, he says, is through engagement.

“Talk to these kids, create programs for them, be there for them, that is the best option,” he said.

“Is having a supervisor there all the time the right answer, I don’t know. But, it could be the start of creating a connection and engaging the users on their level.”

McIntyre said he would like to potentially see more programming happening for the skate park users, or more event similar to the Mi Casa Su Casa event which was held in September.

“Everyone deserves to have a space where they feel safe and welcomed, and that is what we hope to accomplish” said McIntyre.

A summary from the brainstorming session along with possible courses of action will be presented to Town Council at a later date.

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