Funds raised to build skate park for Leviathan II rescuers

VANCOUVER -- A First Nations community on Vancouver Island whose quick response to a capsized whale-watching boat is credited with saving lives is one step closer to getting its own skateboard park.

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Vancouver-based longboard design and production company Landyachtz has reached its goal of fundraising $20,000 in order to build an outdoor skateboarding facility for at-risk youth in Ahousaht.

The isolated village, located on an island about 20 kilometres north of Tofino, has about two kilometres of paved road and is accessible only by air and water.

"We're really excited about how well the fundraising campaign went," said Landyachtz co-founder Mike Perreten in an interview on Sunday. "It feels great."

Money-raising efforts began about two years ago after a Landyachtz crew visited Ahousaht to teach children how to skateboard.

"It was just so obvious right away that this community would benefit so much from a skateboard park here," said Perreten.

The campaign took on new momentum in October after a giant wave flipped the Leviathan II, a whale-watching vessel based out of Tofino, sending 27 passengers and crew into the frigid, roiling Pacific Ocean. Six people died in the incident.

Survivor Dwayne Mazeereuw wanted to find a way to give back to his rescuers after he and his wife were plucked from the chilly waters that day by an Ahousaht fishing crew.

A Calgary-based skateboard-park designer by trade, Mazeereuw discovered Landyachtz's campaign and decided to offer his expertise to the effort.

That design contribution, in addition to the $20,000 publicly raised and the $10,000 each coming from Landyachtz and the Ahousaht Council, means a higher-quality park than originally envisioned, said Perreten.

"We're getting way more than a $40,000 park now, which is pretty cool," he said, adding that designing even a small skateboard park can cost as much as $20,000.

"The whole thing has kind of taken on a life of its own. It's really awesome."

Because of the expansion, a new location will have to be found in the coming weeks, after which the design process can begin.

"The plan is to break ground in the spring so the park can be used for the end of the spring and the summer," said Perreten.



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