British Columbia

North Van mayor apologizes after closure of popular skate park

The 1,500-square-metre Lonsdale Skate Park, located at the intersection of Highway 1 and Lonsdale Avenue, was a popular skateboarding destination before its permanent closure this week.

City sets aside $175K for a temporary site at Mahon Park while Lonsdale Skate Park is demolished

The City of North Vancouver has decided to consider building a temporary skateboard facility at Mahon Park, about 1.6 kilometres away from the popular Lonsdale Skate Park that is being demolished in order to make way for the construction of the new Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre. (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

The City of North Vancouver has decided to examine the feasibility of a temporary skateboard park, in response to a petition from the local skateboarding community after the one it was using was demolished.

In a meeting on Monday, city council approved a staff proposal to look at the feasibility of building a 600-square-metre makeshift skateboard facility at Mahon Park — about 1.6 kilometres southwest of the now permanently closed Lonsdale Skate Park — with a budget of $175,000 for design and construction.

The 1,500-square-metre Lonsdale Skate Park, located at the intersection of Highway 1 and Lonsdale Avenue, had been a popular spot for the local community.

The city decided to demolish it in 2019, in order to make way for the construction of an aquatics facility, as part of a new Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre project that is expected to be completed in 2025.

The Harry Jerome Recreation Community Centre, built in 1955, will be replaced with a new one with an aquatics facility at the location of the old Lonsdale Skate Park. (City of North Vancouver)

The city promised the centre would have a new skating facility but didn't come up with a replacement site before it decided on March 14 to demolish the Lonsdale Skate Park. It suggested skaters use other skate parks on the North Shore but they are all between two and 10 kilometres farther away.

Mayor's apology for miscommunication

Frustration over a three-year wait-time for a new skating facility without a viable alternative triggered an online petition by more than 3,500 skateboarders and supporters to stop the demolition of the Lonsdale Skate Park.

The city decided to postpone the park's closure to March 28 and at a council meeting the same day, Mayor Linda Buchanan apologized for the lack of public consultation over the park's demolition.

"I can certainly appreciate that the news of the park's closure was a shock for many, and many weren't really sure what that meant for their particular needs.

"Nonetheless, it has been a couple of years of many things happening around the Harry Jerome project and many other things happening in the context of what's been going on, and so if we misstepped in terms of that communication, I do apologize for that," Buchanan said.

City council accepted the staff recommendation to consult with the local skateboarding community on the construction of a temporary skating facility at Mahon Park. 

At a council meeting on Monday, North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan apologized for the city's miscommunication with the local skateboarding community. (City of North Vancouver)

In a report, City park operations manager Derek Priestley says funding for the temporary skate park would be transferred from a power modification project at the Centennial Theatre, which is near completion and below its total budget of nearly $340,000.

An aerial view of the proposed temporary skateboard facility at Mahon Park. The City of North Vancouver has committed $175,000 to its design and construction. (City of North Vancouver)

Avid skateboarder Cullen Arbuckle, who has lived in North Vancouver for a decade and been working at a skateboard shop in Lonsdale for about six years, says he signed the online petition because there are no other places on the North Shore as accessible and spacious as Lonsdale Skate Park for skateborders of different skill levels. 

Arbuckle says he thinks the mayor's apology was sincere, and he hopes the temporary skating facility at Mahon Park will work well for fellow skateboarders.

"It's going to be doing a lot of legwork in the interim, but it is still better than not having a park at all," he told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition, on Thursday.

With files from The Early Edition