The installation of the state-of the art skateboard/BMX plaza at Marina Park five years ago created a wave of interest in Thunder Bay that continues to build. The 25,000-square-foot (2,323-square-metre) state-of-the-art park, which won a 2010 Parks and Recreation Ontario Excellence in Design award, is getting a lot of attention.
“It’s considered one of the best parks in the country,” says Thunder Bay Skateboard Coalition chairman John Kelly.
Amazing Numbers For Waterfront Plaza
Kathy Ball, operations coordinator for Marina Park, is thrilled with the Coalition’s hard work and involvement, which definitely contributes to the success of the park as a visitor attraction.
“Last summer, 10,000 skaters used the plaza, and that’s only counting the users after 3pm,” she says. “Lots of local residents are there, and we have visitors too—one group regularly comes up from Minnesota so the kids can skate and the parents can shop and tour the city.”
It seems the interest these two action sports is growing.
Six Things You May Want to Know
If you are itching to get some big air or ride the rails in Thunder Bay this summer, here are six things you may want to know:
- You can take free skateboarding lessons. Lessons are offered at the Marina Park plaza throughout the summer put on by the Thunder Bay Skateboard Coalition. The Coalitions puts on events and exhibitions to promote the sport including BBQs.
- There’s a new park in the works. Conmee Township, near Kakabeka Falls, is developing a new skatepark designed by New Line Skateparks, which also designed the Marina Park location. “They’re working on the final design and we’re working on funding,” says Kelly. “We are planning on opening in summer 2015.”
- Little kids can use the Marina Park plaza. Balance bikes (small-scale bikes without pedals, usually used by 2- to 5-year-olds) are a hot trend. Thunder Bay Balance Bikes organizes informal morning get-togethers where the kids can ride and glide in the plaza—yes, that same smooth bowl that the skateboarders and BMXers use.
- There’s a new skateboard shop. The Eclectic Skateboard Shop at the “skate shack” at Marina Park is operated by local skaters. It carries a small selection of skateboards and accessories from companies like Olive, Studio and Premium. “The money goes toward park improvements and special events, and skaters like that they can buy local—really locally if something breaks!” says Kelly. The shop also has its own team—check out this You Tube video.
- The West Thunder Community Centre got an update. This site located on Edward Street beside Mary J. L. Black library, is becoming a destination too. “The update was about two years ago, but a lot of people still don’t know about it,” says Kelly. The aging asphalt was replaced by concrete (much better for skateboarding) and new elements like boxes, grind bars and ramps were put in place. Discussions are ongoing about a similar facelift for the Current River Community Centre skatepark.
- BMX events this summer (2014). Thunder Bay BMX is working on developing BMX events and races for the summer months—visit the group’s Facebook page for updates. Thunder Bay’s BMX park is located at the John Jumbo Playfield at 330 Toiva Street and offers jumps and challenges for both beginners and experts.
Include a skateboard or BMX outing in your plans to visit Thunder Bay this summer — brush up on rusty skills, learn some new ones or simply grab a snack and sit back to watch some talented skaters and riders. You’ll be stoked!