360, kickflip, ollie – come one, come all

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by Joel Balsam on May 7, 2014

Marin Gagné, 7, of Rupert hits the skate park before the grand opening just as it begins to rain on May 3. He has been skating now for a few years. Joel Balsam photo

Marin Gagné, 7, of Rupert hits the skate park before the grand opening just as it begins to rain on May 3. He has been skating now for a few years. Joel Balsam photo

At first, the goal seemed gargantuan. A skate park, hockey rink, and basketball court for a town of just 1,000 people. But volunteers weathered the storm and, after years of planning, kicked off by a $25,000 Kraft Celebration Tour grant in 2010, Wakefield’s sports pad’s grand opening is set to take place on May 10. “It’s a huge feat, and all of this by volunteers,” said president of the Wakefield Recreation Association Ghislain Lafontaine who saw the project through since its inception. “I did this for my children and because I believe in the community.”

For over 10 years, there had been a desire to build something to keep Wakefield teens active (and to help them stay out of trouble) and the general consensus was to build a skate park, according to Lafontaine. But the dream of a skate park quickly became unrealistic considering the budget: the Kraft award, community fundraisers, and an injection of cash from the municipality of La Pêche amounted to just $100,000 – a measly amount to construct anything of substance.

By chance, a new program introduced by the Quebec government promised to match community fundraising efforts for a project like a skate park. However, as is often the case in Quebec, politics led to the elimination of the program.

But the dream of a skate park wouldn’t die. A similar program overseen by Economic Development Canada also promised to match any community fundraising, so volunteers banded together with the help of the municipality of La Pêche to accrue $150,000, which resulted in a budget of $300,000.

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