What started as a “ball of energy” is manifesting itself as an indoor skate park in downtown Hope.
Mike Faux, “Hippie Mike” to most, said the park will be opening up to the public by Dec. 12 and to have the entire skate park done before Christmas. It won’t just be a place to skateboard and teach lessons, it will also house a skateboard shop, a space for wood working and a place to practice Brazilian jiu jitsu.
After dealing with injuries and some difficult years mentally, Faux wanted to spend this year getting back to his roots and finding out what he enjoyed again. “I dropped all my sponsorships and just went back to just skateboarding…I just found that passion again,” he said. After starting to teach lessons to local kids and being asked to do some online lessons but not having the space, he kept on coming back to the idea of an indoor skateboard park.
Looking around Hope, commercial properties were scarce where such a thing could become a reality, until he took a look at the old Rona building on the corner of 5 Avenue and Fort Street. “From the second I walked in the door, I said ‘oh yeah, this is it.’” Not only was the space large enough for a skate park, it also has space for a storefront, shop space for the former custom cabinet maker and a rental suite, which allow for income generation from other angles as indoor skateparks are generally not a moneymaker Faux said.
At the time he signed the lease, Faux said he had zero dollars to invest but he figured “why not.” Since then, the skateboard community and the Hope community have been coming out of the woodwork to make the dream a reality.
Around $10,000 was raised by supporters buying t-shirts, hoodies and decks to help fund the park. Then before the lease was even signed, Linda Kaji came forward with a donation of $10,000 dedicated to the main floor of the park and for buying equipment for kids who don’t have any. It was an important moment, Faux said with emotion in his voice, as the donation from the late skateboarder Paul Kaji’s mother “just gave the initiative, to know that it’s possible.”
Then Faux’s friend Paul Anderson donated 5,000 square feet of laminate flooring. Paul’s son Andy has now gone pro and signed with skateboarding brand Powell-Peralta, Faux taught and coached him from a young age. After this, Jamie Davis Towing began kicking in construction material. Donating two-by-fours to the tune of around $9,000 and plywood was how it started – more wood and tires are coming from the company said employee Gord Lundin, and the plan is to have the Highway Thru Hell crew film opening night for a possible appearance on season 10 of the show.
Lundin’s 11-year-old daughter wants to get into skateboarding and Sherry Davis’ 15 and 16-year-old children will be using the skate park once it’s up and running. “When it rains you don’t see really anybody out at all, so no one’s really getting any exercise. This is going be good for people, health-wise,” Davis said.
A lot of the build involves recycling – using parts of the old Rona store to construct various pieces of the new skatepark, and incorporating many recycled ramps. Another friend, Jamie Madill and the company Platinum Pro-Claim Restoration, have been donating everything from paint to doors to furniture. Construction has been full tilt inside the building since the lease was signed Oct. 6.
Patrick Hoppus, whose son is another one of Faux’s former students, also got the Hope Pentecostal Assembly involved with a $500 donation. “He came over and he says ‘Can I talk to you for a second?’ and I thought ‘Oh s**t, right. What have I done? I’ve already upset the neighborhood,’” Faux recalls. “But he said ‘We’ve been talking as a church and we’re not a large church but we want to donate any way that we can’.”
Another building on the property is also undergoing a big makeover, it will soon house Christian Paauwe’s Pacific Top Team Brazilian jiu jitsu classes. “I know Mike is really into community, so I just had to jump on it,” he said, although recent public health orders have closed down classes completely for the time being. As Pauuwe and the Jamie Davis Towing crew gathered for the Hope Standard interview, they arranged to donate tires to Pauuwe’s plans for a sprung floor.
To finish the build, more plywood and top sheeting are needed. Faux has launched a Gofundme online fundraiser to raise funds for this needed equipment.
Paul Kaji’s spirit lives here
Linda Kaji has been involved in the skateboarding community ever since her late son Paul started skateboarding as a 10-year-old. At the time skateboarding infrastructure was scarce, so Paul would commute to North Vancouver to skate. This is where he ended up competing with and befriending Faux.
“I was so used to hanging around skateboard kids for decades, that I kind of missed that,” Linda said. Her home in Burnaby became the go-to place for local kids to skate after a surprise delivery of a half pipe, a feat engineered by her then-teenaged son.
“A truck pulls up with half of the half pipe on the back of this humongous truck and they said ‘Where do you want it?’ and I knew nothing about it,” Linda recalled. “We had a big backyard and so I said ‘Well, I guess back there.’” Soon enough 20 neighbourhood kids were coming over to ride the half pipe. “It meant to much to Paul growing up, the skateboarding and the skateboarding friends. And the whole atmosphere.”
A mural based on a photo of Paul launching out of a bowl in North Vancouver where he grew up skating watches over skateboarders as they take their turns down the newly constructed indoor half pipe.
Arielle D’Amore is behind the mural which depicts a skeleton holding his board with one hand and his other hand reaching into the air, framed by depictions of the Hope mountains that surround the new skate park. The mural is also about skateboarders in general – as Faux said, “skateboarders never give up, never die.”
“Mike and I feel that his spirit is still here, and it’s just really good energy,” Linda said. Paul has been gone for three years, “in a way, it’s an eternity, but as we say, I think his spirit is still around.” And Linda will continue to be around the park too, usually clad in paint pants and ready to do whatever is needed. She also hopes to see some girls-only learners classes in the space.
Offering the park to a community that doesn’t have anything like this is important for Faux.
“Here’s a place where their kids can come, that’s inside, it’s dry, it’s semi warm if we turn the heat on, and it’s supervised,” he said.
A big focus is getting sponsorship so school programs for every grade can be run out of the facility. Faux envisions programs during the day and after school, as well as a “chaos zone” drop in time for skaters, as well bikes and scooters.
“Here’s a place where we’re here and we can help raise the next generation.”
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