It’s 11:30 Saturday morning at the Incline Indoor Skate & BMX park in Sylvan Lake when a car full of skaters pulls into the parking lot. A willing mother has just driven six 13-16 year olds from Calgary so they could skate for the day. Getting up early and hitting the highway is routine for these passionate skaters, who recruit a driver and make the two-hour trip almost every Saturday.
What would it mean for this Calgary crew if there were an indoor park in Calgary? “We’d save time (from the traveling), it would be more practical, and keep us fit in the winter” said Claudio aged 14. 13-year-old Austin said that an indoor park would, “keep us out of trouble, not skating in malls and the +15.” Ashton (15) agreed saying, “we wouldn’t get in trouble skating where not allowed. Cochrane local Brandon (13) would really appreciate, “being able to skate year round, when we want.” Claudio and Ashton both agreed that without Incline they’d be sleeping in, watching TV, playing video games, and generally being lazy if it weren’t for Incline. At 16, Ryan sums it all up, saying, “Bring The Source back!”
This carload of Calgary skaters was not the only ones to make the trip this frosty December day. Like other highway 2 travelers, they agree that Calgary really needs an indoor skatepark. After chatting with them and watching them enjoy a day in the skatepark, I have to wonder how many hundreds of Calgary youth would be having fun, staying fit, staying out of trouble, and not sitting glued to the TV during our long, cold winter if Calgary had it’s own “Incline”?
Why doesn’t Calgary have more skateparks? Edmonton is a smaller city and they have a bunch of good parks.
This is a common question for most Calgary skateboarders. While there is no “official” answer, we’ll take a stab at answering it:
When Millennium Park was completed in 2000, it was the biggest in the world. Calgary was smaller than it currently is, population-wise. The prevailing view toward skateboarding was, “we gave you the biggest park in the world so that should keep you happy.”
Although Millennium has its shortfalls, it did keep us skaters happy for a while. And maybe the fact that we had the biggest park created a view in our minds that we shouldn’t ask for more.
Fast forward a decade or so and skatepark development has come a long way. There are professional companies made up of landscape architects, engineers, and expert concrete finishers who design and build world class skateparks with carefully developed techniques. Calgary’s population has also grown about 30%.
Skateparks being built these days are better than they have ever been. Some of the recent parks built in Edmonton demonstrate that. Edmonton has nearly ten skateparks within the metro area and there is talk of more.
It’s mostly been the community associations who have driven the Edmonton skatepark projects. That means that an area’s residents have an association which help promote well-being and a sense of community. You should be able to find yours here. We strongly encourage you to join or contact your local community association and let them know that a skatepark is needed in your area.
Generally an idea like a skatepark (or playground, hockey rink, etc) gets started at the community level. Someone brings that idea to a monthly community association meeting where it may be voted on. If enough members/residents think it’s a good idea, they will contact their ward alderman (find yours here). After that, the alderman presents the idea to council where it is voted on, funds are earmarked, etc.
The city of Edmonton has been better at getting things done at a community level. And what happens with this type of thing is that when one community does it, the others see what they accomplished and want to do the same– a snowball effect is created. That’s exactly what went on in Edmonton.
As far as progress toward getting more parks built, yes we have made some. We have been in talks with a couple of community associations. We’ve given them information and done presentations. We speak with alderman and City staff. They know we exist and that we need more skateparks. We worked on the Skateboard Amenities Strategy which has set a framework for many parks. There are two rec centres in the works that have skateparks in the plans.
We need help from everyone to get more parks. As mentioned above, contact your community association and alderman. Use Facebook, Twitter, e-mail– whatever you can to get the word out.
Notice of Annual General Meeting
7 PM, Wednesday May 2
Eau Claire Market
200 Barclay Parade SW
Every year CASE invites all of our members as well as everyone else in the Calgary skateboarding community and those who support skateboarding, to our Annual General Meeting (AGM). Our AGM is an opportunity for CASE to share what we have accomplished, what we are working on, and what we have planned. It will also be a chance for us to answer your questions, and hear your ideas and suggestions about what we can do for skateboarding in Calgary. If you want to get involved in any of CASE’s efforts, you can check into that opportunity as well as CASE needs more people to contribute, a little or a lot, to help push skateboarding forward in Calgary
We are making progress towards getting more skateparks in Calgary, and in making our city a more skate friendly place. The progress is not as quick as we’d all like, but the progress is definite. We’re making a difference for Calgary skateboarders and we hope you can make in on May 2nd so you can hear about developments first hand!
If you have questions, comments, or need more information before the meeting click “Contact” in the menu bar.
See YOU May 2nd!
A few months after the federal government denied the city’s application for funds for four new recreation centres (two of them which have skateparks in their plans), the city has announced that provincial infrastructure money will be used to build them.
Read more about this great new from council here.
Calgary is recognized for its network of some 700 km of bike and pedestrian pathways across the city which are enjoyed by citizens of all ages and from all walks of life. Pathways are well used, with an average of 149 users per hour and almost 27,000 users per day in a recent study. Calgarians use their pathways for recreation, fitness, and transportation with cycling, walking, and running the most popular ways of getting around (1). Today we take the bike paths for granted, but it is interesting to look back at how the bike paths got started and the parallels to where skateparks are today.
The Calgary Herald’s Tom Babin reported that in 1971 a group of 40 U of C Physical Education students received a $56 800 grant from the Federal government to build the first bike path from the zoo to the Glenmore Reservoir along the Elbow River. Those pioneering Phys. Ed students wanted to see Calgarians live a more active and healthy lifestyle, and as many supporters as there were, not everyone understood. One critical comment quoted in Babin’s article was concerned that “Some areas of the river are dangerous because of deep water, I wouldn’t want to see young kids going for a bike ride there and ending up drowned.” Not much of an informed or reasoned argument against the bike paths as the bike paths would not have been planned for the water’s edge in the first place.
Fast forward to today when CASE has picked up the banner from the Fellowship of Calgary Skateboarders who had advocated to see Shaw Millennium Park built. Like the Phys Ed students of long ago, CASE has had to advocate for our cause with City Council, and we hear some ill informed, baseless, and at times irrational arguments against skateparks. There are those that think skateparks are noisy, messy, expensive wastes of space and money that only attract crime and violence to their communities. None of those objections are true of course, but like the individual that thought kids would be drowned on the bike paths, those who object to skateparks have a right to be heard too, so we need to respond positively and constructively to address their objections. The best way to respond to the concerns of those who don’t understand skateparks is with good factual information, rational explanations, a positive attitude, and hard work to advocate for the skateparks Calgary so badly needs. Contact CASE if you need information to advocate for skateparks, or if you want to help us push for more skateparks in Calgary.
(1) City of Calgary (2011). Pathway Safety Review Report 2011. Retrieved December 14, 2011 from http://www.calgary.ca/Transportation/TP/Documents/cycling/Cycling-Strategy/pathway-safety-review-report2011.pdf
(2) Tom Babin’s article in the Herald: http://www.calgaryherald.com/homes/Path+popularity+creating+planning+problem/5839722/story.html
A lot of people ask, “What can I do to help get a new skatepark?”
Well, the short answer is, “Lots.”
First of all, register on www.calgaryskateboarding.com
The statistics tell of an estimated 40,000 – 60,000 skateboarders in Calgary. Sure, maybe not all of them check out this site (we hope most of them are out skating) but we hope the ones that do are registered. If we had even half of that registered to our site, we’d have a lot more pull in the eyes of some politicians. The old saying, “power in numbers” holds true when lobbying government.
Email your alderman. Email the Mayor. These people were elected by the citizens of Calgary, the citizens who pay taxes for services. When it comes to recreation, citizens decide what services they require. It would be great if the mayor said, “Millz is gettin’ kinda beat, dudes. We should build a few skate plazas, along with some bowls, and maybe a couple of snake runs too,” but that’s probably not going to happen. We need to tell our city’s leaders what we need.
Obey the Like us on Facebook. This goes back to the first point about quantifying our membership. At the end of the day, the people involved with CASE are volunteers. We meet regularly and invest a lot of time into trying to do what’s best for skateboarding in Calgary. if you have any suggestions or comments. If you can donate, that helps us a lot. Being a non-profit society, we rely on donations to throw events and fund things like this site as well as insurance so we don’t get sued personally.
Come to our benefit show on April 15th. We’re ramping up for a big Summer of events and talks with the City about skateparks. We could use your help.
“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.
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