Skatepark ranks as lower priority for Penholders

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Recreation survey results see 'real divide' in town

PENHOLD – A future skatepark for the town may not be a priority for its residents.

Results from the Penhold Outdoor Recreation Facility Survey were published earlier this spring and it wasn’t good news for skatepark supporters.

Citizens chose the skatepark as the fifth most important future outdoor recreation facility with 294 votes. It was preceded by trails in first place with 353 votes, open green spaces with 326 votes, playgrounds with structures with 324 votes and a dog park with 319 votes.

“I think what the survey results show is a real divide,” said Mike Yargeau, Penhold mayor. “There’s people that absolutely, one hundred per cent want the skatepark and there’s people that absolutely, one hundred per cent, don’t.

“Obviously there’s a middle ground there. I think in this case, the skatepark fundraising effort has gone on for quite some time and I think we’re seeing a little bit of burnout too,” he added.

The nine-question survey asked adult residents 18 years and older about age groups completing the survey, what outdoor recreation facilities within Penhold have people used in the past 12 months, what percentage of tax increase would residents support to fund recreation projects within the town and what future outdoor recreation facilities residents would support.

Respondents were asked to rank them in order of importance.

“The response was really good,” said Yargeau, noting just over 400 residents completed the survey. “We just wanted to know what the community wants.

“As we move forward, (the) town has limited resources on how to spend our money so we need to see what the people of Penhold expect from their town,” he added.

Brenda Mahoney, skatepark committee chair, was discouraged with the results.

“I am very disheartened that the parents of our youth did not get behind their youth and support them,” said Mahoney. “They were more concerned with the trails and dog parks and other things than they were with helping these children who are too young to drive and who just want to go out and have fun,” she added.

Despite the fifth-place finish, Mahoney said the project is still in the works.

“It certainly doesn’t put a damper on (skatepark plans) because it is still wanted by our youth,” she said.

Yargeau said the Town of Penhold is still behind the skatepark project.

“(The skatepark committee) still has the town’s support and we still have the land allocated for them, which we’ve done from Day 1,” said Yargeau. “We don’t have (anything) to go on yet because they’re not ready to start building.”

The survey did help provide some feedback for future plans and projects, he noted.

“This (survey) is by no means a promise that we can do all this, but it gives us a path when we set our priorities, look ahead to our future plans and what we can incorporate and bring to the town,” Yargeau concluded.

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Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean is a reporter with the Innisfail Province, joining the newspaper in 2015. She covers Penhold municipal politics, news and community events as well as sports in and around the town as well as in Innisfail.