Skateboard Ramp Bylaw Update

The City of Calgary Planning department recently released the results of their engagement for “sports ramps”. You may recall that Calgary has a bylaw which prohibits skateboard ramps on private property. That bylaw is currently being repealed after a notice of motion was filed by Councillor Evan Woolley.
The city conducted an online survey, open houses, as well as a telephone survey. The results of those surveys showed that the majority of Calgarians polled support having skateboard ramps on private property. Strong support (72%) came from the telephone survey, which is a random sample that’s designed to be representative of all Calgarians. You can review the results for all three surveys by clicking the timeline below:

ramp bylaw1

City of Calgary Engage Timeline

Now we wait for the next step, which is on June 1st when bylaw and planning staff present their findings to the Standing Policy Committee on Community and Protective Services. That committee is made up of seven councillors and the mayor. The meeting is open to the public.

After that, the committee’s findings will go to council for the final review on June 13th.

In an interesting twist, the city has made a “policy shift” on ramps on public streets (as well as street hockey nets and basketball nets). According to their recent tweet, ramps are now allowed on streets, provided they don’t obstruct traffic and are removed after use.

City of Calgary tweet

City of Calgary tweet

Thank you for your patience and support on this. We’re optimistic that ramps will be allowed on public property later this year!

Ramp Bylaw Notice of Motion

You’re probably aware that Calgary has had a bylaw banning ramps on private property since 1986. On June 29th, Councillor Evan Woolley put forward a Notice of Motion to amend the bylaw. Council passed the motion.
This is a good first step towards changing the bylaw but there’s still some work to be done which will be presented to council in 2016.
In the meantime, we strongly suggest contacting your councillor and explaining why it’s important to change this bylaw. All councillors are listed at this link, so find yours and use the contact form to reach out.
You can read how each councillor voted by viewing the agenda minutes here. Scroll down to 8.1.2 “SPORTS RAMPS”.
Read more in Metro, Calgary Herald, and Calgary Sun.

Calgary Ramp Bylaw Being Repealed

Under Calgary’s Land Use Bylaw 1P2007, Section 344 (7) skateboard ramps are not allowed:

“A skateboard ramp must not be located on a parcel.”

However, Councillor Evan Woolley hopes to change this unnecessary bylaw when he makes a notice of motion next month. Let’s hope it goes better than last time a councillor tried this.

The Calgary Herald ran an article on this topic today:

Calgary should repeal ‘outdated’ backyard skateboard ramp ban, says city councillor
Trevor Howell, Calgary Herald More from Trevor Howell, Calgary Herald
Published on: May 15, 2015
wade cose ramp

Calgary’s longstanding bylaw banning skateboard ramps on private property is outdated and should be scrapped, says Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley.

The inner-city councillor says he will introduce a notice of motion by the end of June to repeal the existing rule and allow homeowners to build ramps on their yards — a practice the city outlawed in the mid-1980s over growing hue and cry the wooden structures were dangerous, unsightly and noisy.

“Skateboarding is very mainstream,” Woolley said. “We should have no business deciding what kind of activities we allow and don’t allow in a backyard around sports.

“Let’s not forget, skateboarding is a sport,” he added. “If someone wanted to put a little ice rink in their backyard so their kids could play sports we would fully let them do that.”

The backlash against skateboarding in Calgary stretches back to the 1980s when the sport experienced a surge in popularity among kids and teenagers.

With few amenities, skaters typically honed their skills on city streets, sidewalks, parking lots and, in rare instances, in their backyards on large three-to four-metre-high “vert” ramps, popularized by then teenage professional riders like Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi.

City officials reacted by banning skateboarding on most sidewalks and roads and by 1986 began cracking down on the proliferation of ramps that could have “a detrimental impact on adjacent properties,” according to a planning commission report at the time.

Former alderwoman Barb Scott described the growing number of ramps as a “critical, critical problem” successfully spearheaded the bylaw that remain in place today.

Over the past 30 years, the public’s perception of skateboarding has shifted dramatically as the sport grew into a multi-billion-dollar industry and gained mainstream acceptance through high-profile televised competitions.

Cities across North America slowly began building skateboard facilities, including Calgary’s renown Shaw Millenium Park, which opened to much fanfare in 2000.

Yet Calgary may be the only major Canadian municipality that prohibits ramps on private property, said Zev Klymochko, founder of the Calgary Association of Skateboarding Enthusiasts.

“No one wants a 12-foot-tall vert ramp in their neighbours’ backyard that obstructs their views,” Klymochko said. “And that’s not what we’re expecting. Now it’s mostly mini-ramps, which average about four feet in height.”

Wade Cose, 41, stood on his first skateboard 30 years ago.

Seven years ago, Cose built a four-foot by 16-foot mini-ramp in the backyard of his southeast home. Within six months, the city forced him to tear it down. He promptly dismantled the ramp and moved it into a newly built garage, where it remains.

“We were going to build a garage eventually, but it was always going to have a mini-ramp in it,” he said.

“If they’re really looking at it I would say put some limitations on it for size. You don’t want someone putting a vert ramp in their backyard,” Cose said.

Klymochko said Calgary’s building and noise bylaws could prevent larger ramps from being built or used too early in the morning or late at night.

Further, he said allowing ramps on private property promotes a healthy activity and lets parents monitor their kids in a relatively safe environment instead of having them skateboard on the street.

“In some ways it’s similar to the secondary suite issue where there’s already dozens, if not hundreds, of these ramps in Calgary already,” Klymochko said. “This would just decriminalize it for people who already have ramps on their properties.”

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