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Beacon Hill skate park to be renamed after local star

An Ottawa skateboarder star says he’s “blown away” after city council approved renaming a skate park in Beacon Hill in his honour.

Trillium Park, located on Ogilvie Road next to Earl Armstrong Arena, will be renamed the Gailea Momolu Skateboard Park when it reopens sometime in 2025. The park is currently closed due to stage 2 LRT construction, with equipment for the project occupying the space.

Momolu, who was named a pioneer in Black skateboarding by Thrasher magazine, grew up in Beacon Hill and often made use of the skate park that was behind his apartment complex.

“It’s pretty emotional to be honest,” he said in a phone interview from British Columbia about having a park named for him in Ottawa.

“I was just blown away and so grateful.”

Momolu said although he had aspirations as a kid to be a famous skateboarder, he never thought something like this would ever happen to him.

And even though he has found success across Canada and the United States, having a skate park in the neighbourhood where he grew up is still an honour and a big deal, he said.

“I guess words can’t describe [the feeling].”

City council approved renaming the park at its July 6 meeting after a motion was introduced by Beacon Hill-Cyrville ward Coun. Tim Tierney, who said the goal is now to make it “the best skate park in the City of Ottawa in 2025.”

According to the approved motion, a plaque will also be erected at the park recounting Momolu’s history.

Tierney said LRT construction equipment should be cleared by 2024, allowing time for the park to be rebuilt for its reopening in 2025.

“It’s actually really exciting stuff that started from nothing,” he said.

Renaming the park was first proposed by Michael Johnston, a defence lawyer and Tierney constituent who went to high school with Momolu.

Johnston, a partner at his firm Shore & Johnston, said he was looking around the Beacon Hill neighbourhood to find an opportunity for a community improvement project when he came across the skate park and found that its name was too generic and it needed a revamp.

He said when he first approached Tierney about renaming and rebuilding the skate park, the councillor was “very enthusiastic about it.”

Johnston said it’s the right move to name the park after someone local who has enjoyed professional skateboarding success like Momolu — who Johnston played sports with during high school.

“[Recognizing] someone from the community who has achieved some professional success” made perfect sense, he said, adding that everyone involved is excited to rebuild the skate park into something that “provides a great place for people in the community to go and enjoy themselves.”

As for Momolu, who is currently based in Vancouver after spending time in California, having the park renamed for him shows that anything is possible.

“There’s no ceiling if you truly are dedicated and you truly are into whatever it is you’re doing.”

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