Wheels Are Turnin' - Community Comes Out for Official Opening of Kitchener’s Upper Canada Skatepark

By: Thomas Hagey - Kw Now Local News
| Published 10/06/2021

Community Comes Out for the Official opening of Kitchener’s Upper Canada Skatepark
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Community Comes Out for Official Opening of Kitchener’s Upper Canada Skatepark

'The new state-of-the-art park, could spawn Olympic Skateboard hopefuls, perfecting their style, waiting for their moment to shine.'

Kitchener – Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Ward 4 Councillor Christine Michaud, Ward 2 Councillor Dave Schnider, and professional skateboarding athletes came together with local residents for the official opening of Kitchener’s newest Upper Canada Skatepark.

For parents, kids and skateboard enthusiasts, it was a joyous event.

"This just wouldn’t have cut it as a ZOOM event," said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. After multiple lockdowns and nearly two years of Covid protocols it’s time to celebrate (together) with some good old fashioned physical activity.

The new skatepark sits prominently at the western corner of Homer Watson Blvd. & Pioneer Drive and is adjacent to the existing city park amenities including the basketball court, playground area, and baseball diamonds. "The new skatepark (designed by Newline Skateparks) is a street-style course with a mix of vertical elements and rails for varying skill levels. It'll be a wonderful facility for years, and years, and years," Said Bill Gurney, Landscape Architect/SR Project Manager, for Newline.

Youth didn't always have a place to practice their craft

It was awesome to see the youth and skate professionals riding the rails, walls, and bumps. Daring and bold... while tweaking the noses of terror and impending injury. You can’t help but wonder (in the early days of the sport) just how much public property was damaged by these skate daredevils to get this good :-)

Everywhere, skateboarders were met with signs saying, NO Skateboarding! Without a local designated skate facility, using city property as their skate park was fair game for their rolling brand of perfectionism.

Build It...They will Come

You want scratched hand rails, park benches, crumbling urban concrete curbs and other downtown public infrastructure? "Then Don't Build Them A Skatepark!!!" (Dare I say DAH!!!?)

Many local residents (some of whom were childless and grumpy from birth), felt the behavior and defiance of these youth, was a total disregard for public property. This wasn’t entirely true. And it wasn’t merely about defiance. It was about inclusion. They were sending a clear message to the community and its politicians that public skate venues were badly needed.

That was easy...

So here we are today. The politicians have listened. The new skate park is completed and parents across the region are glad to have their children skating instead of spending the bulk of their time online. Phew!

Aside from several pro-skaters who were in attendance to strut their stuff and impress (Adam Hopkins and Fay DeFazio Ebert), there were some great local kids practicing for what has now been recognized as an Olympic sport. The 2020/2021 Tokyo Games were the first Olympics to host skateboarding as a sport.

Two standouts were Nola Eldridge (the wee tot below) and Jon Parrott. Their synchronized skating routine attracted attention after the opening ceremony. Could there be a future Olympic contender coming up the pipe?

Nola, already showing great style and technique...

With this new state-of-the-art facility off of Homer Watson Boulevard, there could be many Olympic hopefuls perfecting their style, waiting for their moment to shine. Dreams don’t happen without practice, or a facility TO practice ON. And when politicians listen to their constituents (which includes YOUTH), the sky is the limit... and dreams become a reality.

Below: August Swinson, Indigenous artist, created this mural for the park. Some of those deer can be seen today in the richly forested area and trails of South Kitchener, Doon. Thank you August for your brilliant work...and forgiveness.

Skateboarder pro Fay DeFazio Ebert

Local kids enjoying the new park... (Remember, you cannot say "break a leg" when you send your kids off to the skatepark. This isn't the theatre! :-)