A classmate of the Abbotsford high school senior who died in a car crash in September protested outside city hall Monday morning to get repairs done to the skatepark he frequented.
Kuera LaBine tried to organize the protest last week in memory of Jorden Child, but when Monday arrived, she was alone. Undeterred, she went to a nearby dollar store.
“I bought a ton of tape to tape the signs up and just stood out there myself. I was like, ‘I’m not going to give up on this.’”
Eventually she was given an audience with Abbotsford’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture to discuss the safety concerns in the McMillan Skatepark adjacent to Yale Secondary and Abbotsford Recreation Centre. She has another meeting with the city next week.
“I just really want to try and get this park fixed up in Jorden’s name,” LaBine said. “What I’ve heard from skaters is there’s quite a few safety concerns.”
Child died in a car crash in the early hours of Sept. 3 after he left a graduation party in the Chilliwack River Valley. Later that night, more than 100 of his peers held a vigil at the skatepark to light candles and leave flowers.
The skatepark has become a rallying point for Abbotsford students grieving Child’s death. A week after his passing, the park concrete was spray-painted with numerous graffiti murals bearing his name.
Many in the community were angered last week when the city hired cleanup crews to power-wash the graffiti away and remove the memorials. The city had initially said the memorials wouldn’t be immediately removed but later cited safety concerns.
Fellow skater Travis Regnier said the city’s concern should be fixing the many dangerous hazards in the skatepark if they care about safety. He says the concrete has been deteriorating for years and many of the metal rails are dented.
“It’s always been an ongoing struggle to have repairs done,” he said. “As soon as it comes to an image thing, it always seems like that’s a top priority versus the actual safety of the park.”
Labine wants other students and skatepark users to email Abbotsford’s parks, recreation and culture department to inform them of the issues.