The skateboard park in Vic West holds a special place in Dave Opperman’s heart.
When he was a teenager, Opperman would spend hours at the skatepark off Esquimalt Road, where he learned to do a number of tricks. From morning to night, he would practice back feebles and feeble grinds with fellow skateboarders or by himself.
“Over the last 10 years, I’ve spent a lot of time at that park. Whenever you learn a trick on a certain rail, you always remember that spot and that time,” said the now 29-year-old Victoria resident. “Vic West has been a training ground for me to learn a lot of tricks. It definitely holds a place in my heart for skateparks. It’s just so comfortable, I know it so well.”
The Vic West skatepark has become a second home to Opperman and the hundreds of skateboarders who use the park.
The City of Victoria is now looking at making improvements to the 24-year-old park that is one of the largest in the city. Earlier this week, the city held a public information session where it unveiled design concepts for the park.
Currently, there are two sections of the skatepark. The older section (which was built in 1992) is more of a beginner-style bowl, with a number of quarter pipes that are roughly two-feet tall. It is cracking and in need of repair.
The new section (built in 2002) is for street skating, with features that would be found on the street such as rails, stairs and ledges. The new park was combined with the old park to allow skateboarders to flow somewhat seamlessly between both areas.
Upgrades to the old section of the skatepark include a larger bowl, replicas of the park’s current pyramid feature, a pathway around the existing area and scupltural rocks that will be designed for skateboarding and act as extra seating.
Thomas Soulliere, director of parks, recreation and facilities with the city, said the design is a result of public consultation last year and earlier this year. Upgrades to the park were also identified in the city’s improvement plan for Vic West park.
Soulliere added the design is still evolving, but will be catered more towards beginner skateboarders.
Opperman, who still continues to make his way to the park a few times a week, said the new design is 90 per cent perfect, adding whenever he passes the park, he often sees anywhere from 25 to 20 skateboarders using it.
While the design for the skateboard park has pleased many skateboarders, Opperman hopes the city will consider creating a long-term plan to build more skateparks throughout local neighbourhoods in the future.
“There’s definitely a need for more smaller-sized skateparks,” he said. “I’m so excited for this new rebuild of the park, but I definitely think if we’re looking to the future to create a new future plan, I think smaller skateparks built in green spaces, but at a smaller scale would help give kids more places and more options to skateboard.”
Construction is expected to begin in the fall, with the park ready for use in November.