New skateboard park in Fredericton could come next summer: mayor

Downtown Fredericton could soon be home to a new park designed for skateboards, bikes and scooters, according to the city's mayor.

Mike O'Brien says council is committed to trying to build a skateboard park – also known as a wheeled sport park – in a centralized location by next summer.

"The skateboard community and the users have been pushing council for years for a proper facility," said O'Brien. "Council is committed to trying to solve this for next summer, finally."

O'Brien made the announcement Sunday during the grand reopening of the Kimble Road Wheeled Sport Park, which recently underwent $122,350 in upgrades.

Work included replacing the asphalt with a new concrete surface and constructing three new structures and a new rail to complement the existing equipment.

"It's a great facility here now, but it's not as central as the downtown core," he said. "This place will always be busy ... but we need something more central and a little more challenging for the users."

Coun. Greg Ericson represents the area where the Kimble Road Wheeled Sport Park is located.

He says even with the upgrades, the facility is only designed to serve a small part of the city – or or two wards – and not all of it.

"The city still has to have, and finish our conversation on where we would put a big skate park and what that would look like," said Ericson.

No location chosen yet

O'Brien said they've been eyeing land near the Small Craft Aquatic Centre, across the street from Wilmot Park, as a possible location for a new park.

But the biggest hurdle, he said, is coming up with the money for such a project.

"The province just made a change that's going to take $1.7 million away from us on operating," said O'Brien, referring to the province's decision to freeze property assessments next year. "But we'll find ways to recover from that."

O'Brien said the city should be able to find money to build the park, and operating costs would be fairly minimal.

Wheeled sports are a low-cost way for people of all ages and skill levels to stay active, he said, and having a proper facility would also be good for tourism

Skateboarding group prefers downtown location

The president of Skateboard Fredericton Inc. says his goal is to see the location confirmed and locked down.

"Certainly all buses lead to downtown, that's something central for the entire city," Brian Muir said at Sunday's event.

Muir said his group has been asking for a proper facility for the better part of 20 years.

"I don't know what all the hurdles are, but I would love to help get past them," he said.

O'Brien said he hopes a location can be locked down over the summer so the project can be part of the 2018 budget deliberations this fall.