West Kelowna  

Tax-funded lights left dark

West Kelowna local Mike Leigh is calling for an explanation as to why the taxpayer-funded lights at Johnson Bentley skate park have not been used.

The avid skateboarder says the lights have not been turned on since the park was built in 2016, and are especially necessary in the lead up to the winter season.

Leigh says he has been chasing answers for a long time to no avail, and simply wants the facility to be used in the way it was intended to be. 

"At other parks lights are used as they're meant to be with little to no problems. I've talked to the RCMP and their main concern was the number of noise complaints they get from boards impacting the concrete, and I guess maybe a criminal element being attracted to the park, but then my argument against that is that lights tend to turn that kind of activity away, not attract it.

"I just love my community and love my skatepark and want to see it used to its full potential."

West Kelowna parks and fleet operations manager Stacey Harding says the lights were originally turned on when the park first opened, but turned off after they attracted the wrong crowd.

"We thought the lights would detract criminal activity and had the same pre-conception, but rather than standing in a dark place they actually preferred to be under the lights. It attracted the homeless, people doing drugs and partying youth, and the good legitimate users didn't want to come around because of that.

"We weighed up the negative effects versus the very little positive effects and decided to turn the lights off. At the moment we don't see a need to change it based on user demand."

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