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'Sad to see it go': Community-built skate park in Halifax torn up during construction

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Construction on a bike lane in north end Halifax is ramping up leaving some community members searching for a new space.

The Almon Street bike lane has crews busy tearing up part of the land along the street to make way for an expansion to the cycling network. The construction work is spreading onto a formerly vacant spot where skateboarders would gather.

"They sort of took out a good quarter of the park here," said skateboarder Connor Warren.

"Starting in the spring, we built two new features here to improve the flow of the space and without notice we sort of had it ripped out."

Fellow skateboarder Joshua MacQuarrie said about a dozen people skateboard at the vacant Bloomfield School site each day, with upwards of 30 on the weekend.

"We're here every day pretty much, so it kind of sucks that they’re taking it away," said MacQuarrie.

The group recognizes they don't own the land, but say they've been skating there without issue for years and have put hundreds of dollars into building a skate park for the community.

"It's sort of hard. We can't really kick back where we don't have permission, but it's sad to see it go," said Warren.

The Almon Street bike lane will run from Windsor to Gottingen streets, with a portion being built as a protected bike lane.

"The construction workers were very nice. They let us know if we wanted anything saved, but it was very last minute. They were tearing it down," said skateboarder Jarret Breen.

When Halifax sold the Bloomfield site to a developer in 2020 for $22 million, it kept a four-metre strip of land to eventually use for the cycling network.

Almon Street was identified as a candidate for a bike route more than 10 years ago in the 2014-19 Halifax Active Transportation Priorities Plan.

Consultations began in 2017 before council ultimately approved the project in 2022. At that time, the cost was expected to be more than $1.3 million.

As construction continues, the skateboarders are hoping to salvage what they can.

"I guess we're going to have to look for other locations, which can be very daunting, especially with the city being the way it is," said MacQuarrie.

The municipality said there are no plans to construct a new skate park on the peninsula. However, it said there are upgrades planned for the Halifax Central Common skate park, and work is nearly complete on the Eastern Passage Common Park skate park.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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