Today both the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun have articles about the need for more skateparks. Here is the one from the Herald:

“On a sunny day, Shaw Millennium Park will draw skateboarders from every corner of Calgary.

It’s not just that there’s no finer place for the kick-flip crowd. Beyond downtown’s skateboarding haven there’s virtually nowhere else in the city to skate, at least legally.

That made it a half-hour drive for Steven Hall and his trick-loving 10-year-old son from Sundance in Calgary’s deep south. Or longer, for those who rely on transit.

“It might have been smarter to put in four smaller parks in the four corners of the city, like in the leisure centres,” Hakl said.

More than a decade after opening Shaw Millennium Park, the city is acknowledging in a new report the skater-filled suburbs deserve one new mid-size skate park in every city quadrant.

The document notes that Calgary also has two smaller skate parks at McKenzie Towne and the west-side recreation centre – as well as three portable parks it shifts around the city. But that’s a dismal tally compared to smaller prairie cities such as Edmonton (11 parks), Winnipeg (8) and Saskatoon (6), to say nothing of Greater Vancouver (18).

Calgary has only one permanent skate park for every 360,000 people, compared with Medicine Hat’s two large parks for its population of 61,000.

“The development of skate parks in Calgary has fallen behind demand, and given the rapid increase in population in the past five years, this gap has grown exponentially,” says the report, which goes to a council committee Wednesday.

In addition to four “regional” parks each nearly a half-acre large, the paper suggests smaller community-sized parks throughout the city.

It recommends private fundraising and partnerships to help the city afford new parks. But instead of offering a price tag or timeline, the paper proposes a fuller strategy by the end of 2011.

Ald. Andre Chabot, whose daughter grew up an avid skateboarder, agreed the limited number of parks has been a disservice for young skaters.

“So they end up using all kinds of different places that were not designed for that and probably not safe,” he said, listing Olympic Plaza and business’ staircases as those venues.

Skate parks would be a great fit in new southeast and northwest recreation complexes that are in the works – if there’s money to pay for them and other high-demand sports facilities.

“We are deficient in so many aspects, and it all comes down to dollars and cents,” Chabot said.

Hakl, who now lives in Okotoks, is trying to address the skate park shortage himself. He’s buying the old equipment from the former 403 Skate Lounge indoor park, and is pursuing investors and property to resurrect it.

But zoning rules will largely restrict his options to a warehouse in industrial areas, and demand a lengthy permit process, the aspiring entrepreneur lamented.

“If this was Vancouver, I could have had it up already,” Hakl said.

jmarkusoff@calgaryherald.com
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