It’s probably premature to call the situation surrounding an ad hoc skateboard bowl under construction beneath the bridge to Quest University in Garibaldi Highlands “a kerfuffle.” We’ll have to wait and see what sort of concerns (and voices?) are raised at an open house being organized by the group building the structure next Wednesday (Feb. 12) at the Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Co. before deciding what label to attach.
On its surface, though, it seems to this writer that a lot of consternation and fuss could have been avoided if the proponents had simply approached the District of Squamish before getting their project underway.
You’ve heard the expression, “Better to ask for forgiveness than permission”? Yes, what’s been done to date is hardly a criminal offence. So far, district officials have reacted in a manner that’s proportional to the situation — issuing a stop-work order so that the project and its potential impacts can be evaluated before deciding on the next official course of action. No problem there.
It’s a conundrum facing many small- and medium-sized communities with limited tax bases, really: More recreational options are needed for young people, but funding is limited. At the moment, there’s no local skatepark that’s out of the weather — another ad hoc project, the Britannia Beach skate “barn,” was ordered closed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in June 2011.
The location of the site now under scrutiny has advantages and disadvantages. It’s under a bridge and close to a heavily populated neighbourhood that doesn’t currently have such a facility; many skaters would be able to walk to the site. On the other hand, there may be both safety and environmental concerns attached — it’s not visible from the road, so activity there can’t easily be monitored by simply driving by. There’s also the issue of liability, since it’s on property owned by the District of Squamish.
If those issues can be easily and inexpensively overcome, officials should certainly work with the bowl’s advocates — who are, after all, only trying to promote healthy physical activity among young people. If not… well, perhaps there’s a reason we have bylaws and processes to follow on such matters. By going ad hoc, the skatebowl group has unfairly jumped the queue and forced local lawmakers into taking action.
— David Burke