Avid skateboarder Dylan Brent never gave up on pursuing his dream of having a skatepark in Paris.
“I’m so happy it’s done and there is no more work,” Brent, 20, a six-year member of the County of Brant skatepark facilities committee, said. “Now, I just get to skate it every day.”
The Paris Optimist Skatepark, located in Syl Apps Park, was officially opened on Saturday afternoon with a grand opening ceremony attended by 25 skateboarders and as many spectators and local dignitaries.
The event included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, barbecue and skateboarding demonstration to celebrate the new $180,000 outdoor facility which was built by a Vancouver-based skatepark design company over the summer.
“I was 14 when I got involved in this,” Brent said. “We were expecting the project to take about three years, but it took six. I had been skating for about a year at the time. It was the most important thing in my life until this point.
“I skate here for at least an hour every day.”
Skatepark project co-chairperson Bev Brooker of the Paris Optimist Club said the successful completion of the skatepark began by forming numerous relationships.
“It began (in 2006) with my relationship amongst a small group of kids who really wanted a skatepark in Paris,” Brooker said. “It has been said it takes a village to raise a child and it certainly took a village to raise this baby skatepark.”
Once County of Brant parks and recreation staff were on board, the skatepark committee was formed, Brooker said.
“The kids formed the skatepark committee and we were off to council where the councillors and the mayor were endlessly respectful and kind to these teenagers presenting their project,” Brooker said. “Next stop for the kids on the committee was a presentation to the Paris Optimist Club, which quickly and readily reached out to this group of kids to form a bond of support and encouragement to make this project their own.”
“Now, we have a world-class skatepark here and we’re so lucky.”
Paris skateboarder Jesse Cumin, 17, said he is impressed by the facility.
“It is perfect for Paris,” Cumin said. “This will mean a lot more skaters will come out of Paris.
“Before this park was built, there were only a couple of boxes, a rail and a ramp here, so it’s definitely an upgrade.”
The skatepark was funded through private donations, several fundraising campaigns led by the Paris Optimist Club, the County of Brant and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Project co-chairperson Marilyn McColloch said it is satisfying to see such a hard-fought project completed.
“It feels wonderful,” McColloch said. “As soon as school is out, they’re here.”