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Benito Youth Eager for New Skate Park


It looks like outdoor recreation opportunities are going to be ramping up in the community of Benito. A small grassroots parent committee has taken it upon themselves to get a skate park built in their region to allow the local children to have more immediate access to such a facility.
“I have three young boys at home, and I know that there were always families in benito that were taking turns trucking their children to the skate park in Swan River,” said Benito Skate Park Project President Tracy Kerr. “So, one afternoon I was thinking that it would be so much easier to have one in our own community, so let’s just bite the bullet and build a skate park in Benito.”
Kerr formed a committee with some of her friends early last year, and received confirmation from local government that they would be allowed to use a portion of municipal property to develop the skate park.
Kerr added that her children and others have a passion for skateboarding, scooters, BMX bikes, and the like, and wanted to build it for them, but also wanted to update the recreational facilities in Benito somewhat as well.
“We wanted to modernize it,” she said. “Every town has a playground, but the skate parks are becoming a bigger thing, with more and more towns having one.
“Children want to do more activities and love skateboarding and riding their scooters or bikes with their friends. As you can imagine, it is not safe to be scooting or boarding up and down Main Street or trying to do jumps off local business steps and rails.”
The project is currently in the fundraising Phase One stage. The committee recently received its first major grant of $5,000 from the Community Foundation of Swan Valley. They are seeking other grants from municipal partners and other funding organizations, as well as donations from community members and support for their fundraising endeavors.
“We have had a meat raffle draw, a spaghetti supper, and did some bartending at the rodeo,” said Kerr. “There has also been a couple of thousand dollars come in so far with donation letters.”
The significant but modest estimated cost of the skate park is $81,000, but Kerr said that they are seeking a goal closer to $100,000 to cover any unforseen cost overruns and insure that the project will be fully funded.
While the exact location of the 1,600 square foot park has yet to be determined, it will be located on the grounds of the Benito and District Recreation Complex. The concrete skate park will allow Benito’s youth to enjoy riding their wheels on ramps, rails, and half-pipes, and provide a safe environment for the youth to gather, practice, and perform their skills.
“The support of the community is growing and is very gratifying,” said Kerr. “Also, with the help of Kyle Machan, President of the Swan River Skateboard Union, we cannot be more excited to get this project rolling and see more than 80 of our local youth enjoy this facility.”
Plans for Phase Two of the project involve constructing a board or plaque that displays all the different donors that will have contributed to the project. Donor categories recognizing individual businesses and persons include:
• Bronze – $1-499;
• Silver – $500-1,999;
• Gold – $2,000-4,999; and,
• Platinum – $5,000 and up
A donation of 30 percent of the goal will also give the contributor naming rights to the park.
The committee also plans to continue to have annual spaghetti supper fundraisers to contribute to any ongoing maintenance that the park may need.
If sufficient funding is in place, Kerr said that they are hoping to begin construction on the skate park in June, but if the committee is short on funds at that time, then the start date will likely be pushed until June of 2020.
“This certainly has been an adventure and with everybody on board, I couldn’t ask for a better committee,” Kerr concluded. “What started off as coffee talk around my kitchen table is now turning into a dream come true. We and the children of Benito are all excited to see it get built.”
If anyone wishes to donate directly, cheques can be made payable to: Municipality of Swan Valley West, Memo: Benito Skate Park.
Cheques can be mailed to:
Swan Valley West – Benito Office
Box 369
Benito, MB
R0L 0C0
A charitable tax receipt will be issued on donations of $20 and up.

Jeremy Bergen