Politics

Interview: Councillor Evan Woolley

Ward 8 Councillor Evan Woolley has been Calgary city council’s top supporter of skateboarding (and CASE).
From helping return Millennium Park back to a 24-hour park in 2015 to putting forward a successful notice of motion in 2016 that changed a 30 year old bylaw which banned ramps on private property, Councillor Woolley has helped our city become a better place to skate.
Woolley has also helped out at several Millennium spring clean ups and co-lead a Jane’s Walk Skate in downtown Calgary.

Photo by Marlene Hielema

 

Why do you have so much love for skateboarding?

My love for skateboarding started when I was a kid. At the age of 10, seeing kids cruising around on boards was just the coolest thing to me. The sport really captured my imagination and I saw it as an important counter culture movement. I’ve seen the dedication and perseverance it takes to learn tricks or to get up after a really bad fall translate into my life and lives of my friends. Now that I’m older, friends of mine who skated as kids/teens/young adults are now business owners, directors, professional photographers and more. I think the skills and lessons learned through skating have without a doubt led them to be as successful as they are today.

Alderman Joe Conelly tried many years ago to change the prohibitive ramp bylaw but could not get any to second his motion. To what do you attribute the support you received from council on your ramp bylaw notice of motion?

I think as time goes on, attitudes change. Calgary is one of the youngest cities in North America and as new generations grow up in this city, we’re seeing shifting mentalities. A lot if it was hard work to break the stereotypes surrounding skateboarding. If you can have a basketball net or a tennis court in your backyard, why shouldn’t you be allowed to have a skateboard ramp? Why shouldn’t your young daughter or son be allowed to safely practice a sport that they love? We did a lot of work and due diligence to to make sure we worked with the community on what type of ramps the city would support – making sure they’re safe and feasible.

 

Our city seems to have embraced skateboarding in the past few years. The Skateboard Amenities Strategy has seen six new, free outdoor concrete skateparks created. To what do you attribute the “new outlook”.

Again, I think with a city as young as Calgary (The average Calgarian is 36 years old) we crave vibrancy. I also think that our City Council has recognized that kids being out and active is a great thing in general — whether it’s a new playground or a new skate park.

Do you still skate?

I do! Not as much as I would like. Just this past summer I went out with a rad group of people on Go Skateboarding Day and toured around the city with friends. No matter how long I go without skating, getting on a board again always feels great.

We’re hoping skateboarding will be allowed in downtown Calgary. Can you help us with that?

Yes, that work is underway. Having a skatepark downtown, but not allowing skateboarding downtown is a pretty ridiculous problem.

Photo by Marlene Hielema

With the election coming up on October 16, what’s the most important message for citizens of Calgary to consider?

I think the most important thing to consider is that our city is changing– we’re in a state of constant change. Our economy is changing and diversifying, there are opportunities and challenges with the growth in population in our city, and there will be constant impacts of technology on our daily lives.

Calgary Municipal Election – October 16

Calgary’s municipal election is coming up on October 16th. There’s also advanced voting– check that out here.

Our current council has done some pretty good stuff for skateboarding. Some of them, anyway. Remember, they vote on issues and majority wins. Here’s a list of positive skate-moves by city hall since 2013 (the last election):

We’ll have more information before the election that will keep you informed when it comes to how the candidates (incumbents and challengers) feel about skateboarding. We’ll also post the incumbents’ voting records on the above issues.

Here’s how the current council voted on the proposed update to the ramp bylaw:

City of Calgary Ramp Bylaw Updated!

ramp

Evan Woolley photo

30 years after a City of Calgary councillor helped pass a the bylaw prohibiting ramps on private property, our current council has updated the bylaw to allow them.
Thanks to Councillor Woolley`s notice of motion filed last year, council voted 8-6 last night in favour of the bylaw updates which include: ramp size limits (6M by 5M by 1.5 M), location rules (backyards only), and setbacks. See full bylaw breakdown below.

rich-ramp

Richard Coumont photo

 

Here`s what was passed last night and will take effect November 21st, 2016:

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO LAND USE BYLAW 1P2007

1. The City of Calgary Land Use Bylaw, being Bylaw 1P2007 of the City of Calgary, as amended, is hereby further amended as follows:

(a) Delete and replace the text in Section 13(130) with: “(130) “skateboard and sports ramp” means structure(s) that provide a surface upon which an individual may use or operate a skateboard, bicycle, scooter, roller skates or other similar devices. Skateboard and sports ramp structures may include re-purposed furniture or other skateable or bikeable above grade surfaces, but does not include at-grade surfaces such as, but not limited to, soil, grass, wood or concrete.”

(b) Add a new subsection to section 25 as follows: “(e.1) the construction of skateboard and sports ramps located in the Districts contained within Part 5: Low Density Residential Districts, or Part 6: MultiResidential Districts;”

(c) Delete and replace the text in Section 60(2) with:
“(2) The rules regarding building design referenced in subsection (1) do not apply to:
(a) an addition that does not increase the gross floor area of the building by more than 10.0 per cent of the gross floor area legally existing as of June 09, 2014; and
(b) a fence, gate, deck, landing, patio, skateboard and sports ramp, air conditioning unit, satellite dish, hot tub, above ground private swimming pool, and an Accessory Residential Building.”
(d) Delete and replace the text in Section 61(2) with: “(2) The rules regarding building design referenced in subsection (1) do not apply to:
(a) an addition that does not increase the gross floor area of the building by more than 10.0 per cent of the gross floor area legally existing as of June 09, 2014; and
(b) a fence, gate, deck, landing, patio, skateboard and sports ramp, air conditioning unit, satellite dish, hot tub, above ground private swimming pool, and an Accessory Residential Building.”

(e) Add a new section 343.2 as follows: “343.2 “Skateboard and Sports Ramps”

(1) All skateboard and sports ramp structures must be located within the maximum envelope dimensions of 1.5 metres high by 5.0 metres wide by 6.0 metres long.

(2) More than one structure may be contained within the maximum envelope dimensions referenced in subsection (1).

(3) The maximum envelope dimensions referenced in subsection (1) do not include at-grade surfaces such as, but not limited to, soil, grass, wood or concrete.

(4) Notwithstanding subsection (1), railings for safety purposes may extend beyond the maximum envelope dimensions referenced in subsection (1) provided they are not designed or used as a surface upon which to operate a skateboard, bicycle, scooter, roller skates or other similar device.

(5) There must only be one skateboard and sports ramp envelope per parcel.

(6) All skateboard and sports ramp structures must be located between the rear façade of the main residential building and the rear property line.

(7) The height of a skateboard and sports ramp at any point is measured from grade.

(8) All skateboard and sports ramp structures, including railings for safety purposes, must be located a minimum of 1.2 metres from a side property line.

(9) All skateboard and sports ramp structures, including railings for safety purposes, must be located a minimum of 1.2 metres from a rear property line.

(10) Skateboard and sports ramp structures must not be included in parcel coverage.

(11) A skateboard and sports ramp must not be attached to a deck, another structure, fence, or building such as, but not limited to, a main residential building, Backyard Suite or Accessory Residential Building.”

(f) Delete subsection 344(7) in its entirety.
(g) Amend subsection 344(8) to bold the first instance of “parcel”.
(h) Add a new section 571.2 as follows: “571.2 “Skateboard and Sports Ramps”

(1) All skateboard and sports ramp structures must be located within the maximum envelope dimensions of 1.5 metres high by 5.0 metres wide by 6.0 metres long.

(2) More than one structure may be contained within the maximum envelope dimensions referenced in subsection (1).

(3) The maximum envelope dimensions do not include at-grade surfaces such as, but not limited to, soil, grass, wood or concrete.

(4) Notwithstanding subsection (1), railings for safety purposes may extend beyond the maximum envelope dimensions referenced in subsection (1) provided they are not designed or used as a surface upon which to operate a skateboard, bicycle, scooter, roller skates or other similar device.

(5) There must only be one skateboard and sports ramp envelope per parcel.

(6) All skateboard and sports ramps structures must be located between the rear façade of the main residential building and the rear property line.

(7) The height of a skateboard and sports ramp at any point is measured from grade.

(8) All skateboard and sports ramp structures, including railings for safety purposes, must be located a minimum of 1.2 metres from a side property line.

(9) All skateboard and sports ramp structures, including railings for safety purposes, must be located a minimum of 1.2 metres from a rear property line.

10) A skateboard and sports ramp must not be attached to a deck, another structure, fence, or building such as, but not limited to, a main residential building, Backyard Suite or Accessory Residential Building.

(11) Notwithstanding sections 550, 551, and 557, skateboard and sports ramps may be included in the calculation of landscaped area, hard surfaced landscape area, soft surfaced landscaped area or common amenity space.” (i) Delete subsection 564(7) in its entirety.

2. This Bylaw comes into force on 2016 November 21.

Our Response to Calgary Herald Editorial Board

newspaper box
Last week, the Calgary Herald Editorial Board published an opinion piece titled, “Don’t Ramp it Up”, which grossly attacked skateboarding and made some extremely poor comparisons. It echoed their previous crack at skateboarding and skateparks, “Edgemont Skateboard Park Would Be Hell On Wheels”.

The CASE board sent a response directly to the Calgary Herald. To date, they have not printed it, nor have they acknowledged it. Here it is in its entirety:

Not every Calgarian is going to quietly sip Chardonnay in their backyard on a warm summer’s night. Your editorial suggests that kids and teenagers should stay inside. To compare the ramp bylaw to not allowing chicken farming within city limits is by far the furthest anyone has ever reached to disparage skateboarding in the decades that skateboarding has been around. Your issue is with the serenity of the back yard experience. Maybe you should consider living in the countryside – hopefully in an area where there is a bylaw that makes sure cows don’t moo after dark. Cars, motorcycles, residential construction, air conditioners, trampolines, airplanes, family get togethers– you name it, are noisy and what occurs in living in a city.
Simply put, no other city in North America has a ramp bylaw. Noise bylaws and other resources available to the citizens of Calgary are robust enough to restrict the issues noted in your editorial. Those same bylaws are used to make those teens you refer to, not play on their trampoline after 10:30 pm.
Based on most of the articles written by your staff, including those regarding the Edgemont Skatepark, there is clearly a negative bias to skateboarding at the Calgary Herald. It seems to be that regardless of the issue, skateboarding is the scapegoat. In one of the Herald’s opinion pieces skateboarding was compared to Chinese water torture. Studies regarding noise pollution are cited but there is no reference to studies on how today’s youth do not get as much physical activity as they should. A 2015 ParticipACTION report states that only 9% of youths aged 5 – 17 get the recommended amount of physical activity per day with skateboarding referenced in the report. For an editor of a large newspaper to weigh in and compare skate boarding to back yard chicken farming reinforces this bias. One would hope that as an editor you would have a more reasoned and fair minded approach to your comments.
There are a great deal of positive outcomes to allowing kids (and adults) to play. The City of Calgary is not only unique in having a ramp bylaw, they are very forward thinking about recreation and its benefit to Calgarians. The City’s Skateboard Amenities Strategy and the support of the City’s administration and Council of this sport and all others is tremendous. Comments like yours continue to reinforce a negative sentiment to skateboarding and are not appreciated.

1993 Calgary Sun Comic

skate comic

Skatepark Construction Update

We’ve been patiently waiting for an update from the City regarding construction of the three new skateparks. The Skatepark Development Project website maintained that construction was to begin in August 2014.

Well, August has come and gone and we’ve already had a dusting of snow. Unfortunately, the three parks we were so looking forward to skating this year will not be built until 2015.

calgary parks postponed

The City has informed us that the bids on the construction tender “exceeded the allotted budget”. The city will re-issue the tender in early 2015 and aim to increase the amount of competitive bids. They say they’re still on track for the development of eight skateparks in 2015, so that’s a plus.

We’ll keep you updated on any developments as planning will start for the other five skateparks soon.

Alberta Sport Survey

The Province has launched a survey to learn more about sport and physical activity in Alberta. Although it can be debated whether skateboarding is a sport or not, it can’t be argued that skateboarding involves physical activity. Take the 5 minute survey and use the “other” and final sections to mention skateboarding.

From the Alberta Government site:
“The Alberta Government would like to know your priorities for amateur sport in the province. Therefore, you are being asked to take the following survey which will demonstrate your sport priorities based on the following contexts:

-Physical Literacy
-Introduction to Sport
-Recreational Sport
-Competitive Sport
-High Performance Sport
-Sport for Development”


2 Hour drive to skate on Saturday a weekly routine

Calgary skater at Incline

Calgary skater, Austin J, at Incline
Photo: Claudio C

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”?

 

 

Another incline shot

Calgary skater, Austin J, at Incline
Photo: Claudio C

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another incline shot

Calgary skater, Austin J, at Incline
Photo: Claudio C

Why Doesn’t Calgary Have More Skateparks

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.

Zero/Mystery Skateboards demo at Callingwood Skate Plaza in Edmonton

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.

Mckernan Skate Spot – 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.

Mayor’s Youth Council Needs Input

The Mayor’s Youth Council is conducting a survey on skateboarding in Calgary and they need skaters under 18 to complete a survey.  If you skate, are from Calgary, and are under 18, please help the Youth Council out here!

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