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Skate park announced for Antigonish

A small number of the many people who celebrated the announcement of a new skate park coming to Antigonish on Aug. 23.
A small number of the many people who celebrated the announcement of a new skate park coming to Antigonish on Aug. 23. - Sam Macdonald

Town, County, St. F.X. and Skateboard Association collaboration pays off with Friday announcement of new park planned for West Street

Skateboarders of Antigonish rejoice – a new skate park is coming to town. And it may be here as soon as next summer.

The announcement of the forthcoming skate park was made to a group of enthusiastic people from across Antigonish town and county, with the occasional shouts and whoops of excitement rippling through the crowd, on Aug. 23.

The announcement was at the site of the skate park’s future location – the field between the old Municipal Building on West Street, and the RCMP Station on Fairview Street.

The park is the product of a collaboration between the Town of Antigonish, the Municipality of the County of Antigonish, St. F.X. and the Antigonish Skatepark Collective (a group formerly known as the Antigonish Highland Skateboarding Association.)

Mayor Laurie Boucher said the park “has been a long time in the making,” noting that the idea has been worked on for the last 20 years.

“Although we are here to announce it today, it was the work of those people who came before us that brought us here today,” Boucher said, as a nod to past efforts by the former Antigonish Highland Skateboard Association to create a skate park in town.
Those efforts resulted in a temporary park that was set up by Highway 7, and subsequently shut down.
Dan Ross, one of the original members of a coalition that worked to bring a skate park to Antigonish was emphatic in how important he thought such a resource to be.
“It’s extremely important, especially with so many kids growing up and missing their chance – and not for lack of effort from the volunteers,” Ross said. “I can just feel a sigh of relief, along with the celebration today, knowing that not only something is happening but something world class is happening.”

One thing Ross was specifically happy to hear about was the location chosen. He said that the previous temporary park, “was a bit outside the core of the town. That symbolizes that you’re excluding the sport,” adding that having it right by West Street is a far better placement.
“It’s going to be for all kids of all ages,” Ross said, with anticipation. “I’m going to be skateboarding there, my son will be. You need facilities like this.”

Boucher, county warden Owen McCarron, St. F.X. VP of finance and administration Andrew Beckett and members of the Antigonish Skatepark Collective all spoke of one vital ingredient in making the skate park a reality; collaboration.
“It’s so important to realize we’re much more productive as a group, getting together, pooling our resources…our thoughts, and ideas – and listening to people we represent,” said Boucher.
McCarron enthusiastically said the park would add to the great variety of recreational and athletic opportunities in the Antigonish area, adding, “on the heels of a widely successful National Special Olympics, this is another example of what’s possible when we all work together.”

“We know providing opportunities for people, particularly youth, to get out and stay active is of the highest importance. This contributes to personal health, and the vitality of the community,” McCarron said.

Jason Mason, a professional skateboarder and snowboarder originally from Antigonish, expressed his excitement at the prospect of what a skate park can bring to Antigonish.
“I know what skateboarding can do for the world, and for a community. Bringing a world class park to Antigonish will literally be giving the kids of Antigonish an equal opportunity to compete against kids all around the world.”
The timing couldn’t be better, Mason noted, given that skateboarding is set to become an official Olympic sport by 2020.

The skate park planned for Antigonish will have the same sorts of courses as the ones that will be used in the Olympics, Mason said, adding, “we’re literally bringing the world to our small town, and creating athletes that can compete with the world, and that’s very exciting.”

Tara Hassin and Matt Schumacher, members of the Antigonish Skatepark Collective, encouraged conversations between the community and members of the collective, and asked people to consider joining the efforts and initiatives to make the skate park a reality.

“If you’re able to contribute, we’ll welcome all the help we can get,” Schumacher said.

Boucher said the expected date to break ground for the construction is this time, next year. A request for proposal for construction of the park is forthcoming.
information released from the Town of Antigonish stated an anticipated $500,000 remains to be raised for the construction of the skate park.

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