Local skate park group hope for funding
The Antigonish Skate Park Collective has its fingers crossed, and is hoping the many local votes they’ve received count. The Antigonish Skate Park Collective is one of four finalists in Kraft Heinz Project Play, a project that awards grant money to communities across Canada, to help build places to play.
This year, the grand prize is $250,000, and the local skate park to be is one of four projects that have made it to the finals. Even if they aren’t declared the grand prize winner, as a finalist in the contest, the Antigonish Skate Park Collective will receive $25,000. Jason Mason, a member of the collective and a professional skateboard and snowboarder originally from Antigonish, said potentially winning $250,000 for the skate park “is a big deal for us.”
“Both Tara [Hassin] and I have been driving around town for the last few days, handing out posters to business, telling the staff and citizens of Antigonish that the quarter-million dollars that comes into Antigonish, stays in Antigonish.” Mason urged everyone to vote, because the $250,000 grant will do more than just subsidize a skate park’s construction.
“I don’t want people to feel like, ‘I don’t skateboard so I don’t care.’ That’s fine, but this will still bring a quarter of a million dollars into the town,” Mason said. “That increases everyone’s value locally. There are more people buying sandwiches and getting haircuts.”
Mason described the skate park as a "sleeping giant," emphasizing that people don’t realize the value a world-class skate park will bring to Antigonish.
"People aren’t anticipating the tourism it will bring; the cultural influence it will bring. Those have enormous values that people will be really happy about,” Mason said. “Once it’s all open, and everyone sees the results, it will give Antigonish the opportunity to be the best it can be.”
Most important of all to Mason is the ability Antigonish will have to retain youth, with a resource like a world-class skate park.
“Antigonish has a big problem keeping young people in Antigonish. After high school, they go to Alberta or B.C. where people build things for them. There are already things there that interest them,” Mason said. “We want to keep youth in town, to keep the skate park, so kids don’t have to go to another town for it.”
Mason emphasized that retaining youth will help Antigonish retain collateral cultural influences; “in a town where kids can start businesses, grow families and won’t have to go west do those things. We’re listening to them, and that’s the main goal – to keep youth in town.”
Town of Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher described the potential $250,000 support as “huge for the skate park and phenomenal.”
“It would really secure the park, going forward with its schedule. Even the $25,000 the Skate Park Collective will get is going to help them with their fundraising.”
Boucher commended the Antigonish Skate Park Collective for its entry to the contest, which features a video outlining the local need for a skate park. The video was shown to council at its regular monthly meeting on Oct. 15, and Boucher, the rest of council, and town staff members present all voted in favour of the skate park on the website where votes are being collected.
“It was very well done, and it looks great,” Boucher said.
Matthew Bruce, brand manager for Kraft Heinz Canada, said the Antigonish Skate Park Collective was chosen as a finalist after it met criteria through answering two questions; describing how the quarter-million would be spent, and the effect a skate park would have on the broader community.
“It’s a great story. It’s a project that is over 30 years in the making – and it was inspiring to hear about some of the battles the residents are having, through the bans and fines they’ve faced,” Bruce said. “We want to be able to provide a safe space for children and youth in the community to ride skateboards, scooters and bikes. It’s a truly amazing story, and I’m happy to have Antigonish in our top four.”
Voting for the project opened Oct. 13, and closed Oct. 19. The winner of the $250,000 grant will be announced Oct. 28, during the halftime of the game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes, on TSN.
Residents and members of the Antigonish Skate Park Collective, celebrate the announcement of a plan to build a world-class skate park in Antigonish.