Indoor

New Indoor Mobile Skatepark at Village Square

We’ve been informed that Village Square Leisure Centre has an indoor mobile skatepark. It’s now open– check the City of Calgary website for hours and other mobile skatepark locations.

Interview: Jay Balmer

I can’t remember exactly where and when I originally met Jay but he has had a huge influence on my life and business. We worked together for many years as he was the executive producer of Slam City Jam and we were the guys that were designing and building the course. During the course of that event we had a short time running ‘The Project’ together which was an indoor skatepark in Burnaby and the headquarters of Slam City Jam for a brief time. Jay was also the key driver behind getting ‘Skateboard Week’ officially established in Vancouver and getting skateboarding legalized as a legitimate form of transportation in the City (which eventually led to the symbolic moment of the last 3 skateboards ever confiscated being handed back to a cheering crowd at Slam City Jam by the chief of police).

Jay has always been a high level thinker and encourages people to think and dream big. He has always had a huge heart for the global skateboarding community and is still pushing hard to see that we are represented well in the eyes of the world.
–Kyle Dion, New Line Skateparks

Where did you grow up and when did you start skating?

My kid years were spent in Kitchener, Ontario. Dad brought home 3 skateboards for himself, my brother and me.  It was 1976 and I was 5 years old. My first board was a yellow banana board and then I moved up to a California 500 with a nose and kicktail. Since then I have always had a skateboard ready to ride.

Our family moved to Calgary when I was 12. It was there that I was introduced to the wide boards of the 80s and it quickly went from fun hobby to my obsession.

Riding his first skatepark in 1977 in North Carolina

Was there a reason you started skating?

Skateboarding really was a gift from my Dad. He had a beautiful aluminum Quicksilver himself and we all rode together in our driveway and on trips. He would take a group of us to the mall on weekends to ride the loading ramps.

For me it was the simple joy of rolling and carving that was my reason to skate. I feel blessed to have started skating before I was exposed to the tricks and possibilities. It was just about the fun with no expectations beyond turns and crazy turns.

First session on the Snoboard Shop ramp in the backyard, pre-stain and railings

Can you tell us more about the ramp you had in your backyard? Was it before or after the ramp bylaw was put in in 1986?

We did have a ramp in our backyard. It was actually the Snoboard Shop ramp, but they had to move it out of their parking lot. My brother and I were both part of their team and our house was nearby on 11th Street in Kensington.

We had some inside knowledge that the bylaw was coming and we moved it the day before the bylaw was passed. It was grandfathered as a pre-existing ramp so we could keep it, as long as they didn’t get complaints.

Our parents made sure we talked to all the neighbours before we moved the ramp in. We agreed on hours, maximum amount of time per day and that we needed to ask around before having a long day or late night session. We also sound-proofed it as much as possible with layers of carpet hanging under the transitions. We avoided complaints and the ramp stayed until after my brother and I had moved away.

Jay carving at Seylynn bowl (North Vancouver) on Canada Day during the Bowl Series

Where did you skate back then? Were there any parks?

My inspirations were videos like the Bones Brigade Video Show, Future Primitive, Wheels of Fire and Hokus Pokus.  So, skating was about the adventure of being out on the streets finding places to skate. That also meant a lot of night skating when the good spots were empty. The ramp was really just a bonus to come home to.

We skated downtown and the Kensington area mostly. Parking lots, parkades, Stephen Avenue Mall, City Hall, James Short, SAIT, Riley Park wading pool, Bowview Pool and the abandoned construction sites that were all over Calgary back then. One building was just a concrete skeleton and there was a ramp a few floors underground and obstacles a flew floors up. I think it is now the Catholic School Centre.

Calgary did have a mobile vert ramp program back then, but they were really sketchy. After Animal Chin came out we also started building launch and wallride ramps that we rolled to nearby parking lots.

Frontside air on the Imra ramp at The Clubhouse, opened by Jay and his brother after the first Slam City Jam

You moved out west. Why?

The simple reason for moving to Vancouver was for the skateparks, like Seylynn in North Vancouver.

On one of our family vacations in the 70s we drove past skateparks in North Carolina. The next year we brought our skateboards with us, but most of them were already torn down. We did find one that was closed and climbed through a hole in the fence. That was my first experience with transition and the magic of skateparks. Finding out there were skateparks in Vancouver meant that was the place I had to be.

With the skateparks, local hills for snowboarding and skimboarding at the beach, moving to Vancouver felt like moving to my home.

High speed double grab over the top hip at Seylynn (North Vancouver)

How did you start working in the video game industry?

After a few years in Vancouver, I started focusing on what I could do for skateboarding. That led me to become the Producer of Slam City Jam, to be a co-founder of New Line Skateparks and help cities like Calgary understand the reasons why they needed to build skateparks.

I felt like I had accomplished my goals for skateboarding when a friend at EA asked me if I was interested in a career in video games. As it turns out, they wanted to make a skateboarding game and were looking for someone to lead the charge. The result was the EA Skate franchise.

Slam City Jam 1998 course overview

What keeps you busy these days? What’s Session Games all about?

Four of us decided to launch Session Games in September of 2016. We all share a passion and background in what are often called ‘Action Sports’. At Session Games we created a place where we get to do what we like to do and work with the people we want to work with. Our primary partner is Red Bull. We have been creating a series of games with them and have more planned for the future.

It has now been 14 years in the video game industry and it has given me some great experiences. It also allows me to help out skateboarding when and where it makes sense without having any financial goals.

The announcement of skateboarding in the Olympics has definitely sparked a new round of excitement and interest in skateboarding. My hope is that it leads to fresh wave of new skaters and for cities to start supporting or building more indoor skateparks, like they provide indoor facilities for other ‘sports’. With all the new skateparks in Calgary there will be a lot of skaters looking to keep riding when the weather changes.

Do you still skate?

I do still skate and have no plans to stop. It is a less frequent now because I like to fully recover between sessions, instead of just charging everyday. There are still tricks I want to learn and places that I want to ride. Last year we went to Hawaii for a week of skateparks and ditches.  That little kid who got his first skateboard over 40 years ago is still in me looking for that next adventure and the next crazy turn.

Hawaii, carving the Stoker Hill ditch in flip flops

Any thank yous or shout outs?

I feel ridiculously thankful for all the places and experiences and friends that I have gained through skateboarding. My thank you list would be huge from my Dad who always supported our interests through to the guys who I still ride with and call me to get out for a session.

My shout outs are to everyone who has stepped up to make skateboarding better from C.A.S.E. to anyone who helps keep the parks clean or gets out there for some DIY, to the champions within the cities that help turn our dreams into reality and the crews that build the parks.

In the end, it will comes down to the survival of the fittest community and it is up to all of us to keep building our skate community. Keep killing it out there!

Recent Bertlemann tribute to Natas Kaupas at Bonsor skatepark in Burnaby, BC

Skateparks in Calgary

CASE is not directly affiliated with any skateparks in Calgary. We advocate for new skateparks and skateboard friendly policies and legislation in Calgary on behalf of the Calgary skateboarding community, but we don’t own or manage any skate facilities.

Downtown:

  • Shaw Millennium Park – Calgary’s oldest skatepark is located on the site of the old Mewata Stadium, on the west side of downtown at Bow Trail/9th Ave between 14th and 11th Streets. It’s Canada’s largest at 75,000 square feet. The skatepark is open 24 hours a day; the greenspace surrounding the park adheres to regular park hours (5AM-11PM). Read more about it on the city’s skatepark site.

South East

  • Deer Run – 2223 146th Ave SE, next to Deer Run Community Centre. 2016 construction.
  • Midnapore – Midlake Blvd SE, next to Midsun Community Centre. 2016 construction.
  • New Brighton – 130 Ave SE, east of 52 St SE. Opened Summer 2016.
  • McKenzie Towne has a small modular park with mostly steel-framed ramps. View the park details here. It’s located at 200 McKenzie Towne Gate SE.

South West

  • CKE Skate Spot is about 5,000 of plaza style terrain located at the corner of Elbow Drive and 73 Ave SW.
  • Southwood – Sackville Drive SW, next to Southwood Community Hall. Opened Spring 2016.
  • Westside Rec Centre, located at 2000 69 St SW has a smaller modular skatepark that is open during the spring and summer months. The set up includes various street obstacles and a 40 foot wide mini ramp with a bank and two distinct sections. Read more at this link.
  • Woodcreek, a small modular skatepark built by area Community Associations separate from the Skateboard Strategy.

North East

  • Genesis Centre – skatepark is in the design process

North West

Mobile Skateparks

The City of Calgary operates the Mobile Skatepark Program during the summer months, generally starting in late June. There are a few parks that travel to all quadrants of the city. Check out this link for dates and locations.

Calgary Region Skateparks

There are a number of free outdoor skateparks in towns close to Calgary.

Skateboard Amenities Strategy

In spring 2017, the City will be moving into the construction phase of the last 2 parks of the first eight, as outlined in the Skateboard Amenities Strategy. You can read about how the initial skatepark sites were selected in this report. The City’s Skatepark Development website has some more information on it regarding these future skateparks.

 

Indoor Skateparks

Currently, Calgary has one indoor skatepark, The Compound, operated by Riders on Board Snowboard Club.

The city has had nearly a dozen indoor parks come and go, however. Places like Skatopia, All Skool, Four-O-Three, Skateworld, and Skate Jungle were all privately operated. It’s been proven that private indoor skateparks cannot exist in most cities. High overhead/operational costs combined with insurance costs make indoor parks a tough go financially.

skatopia

CASE has submitted proposals for indoor skateparks on two separate occasions. The first was for a location in Inglewood, the second for the former Science Centre building downtown.

skate-jungle

CASE is working constantly towards an indoor facility. We live in a city that is unskateable nearly half of the year. We hope to follow the models of parks like Le Taz in Montreal or the Regina Indoor Park. The cost of running a skatepark cannot be supported by user fees alone; a partnership is required. For example, a donated building.

source

Skatelife operates a temporary indoor skatepark every Tuesday night at Dalhousie Community Church. More info on their website:

skatelife

The Compound Indoor Skatepark Fall Hours

We are not affiliated with any skatepark in Calgary. We’ve had a lot of inquiries regarding rates, hours, etc. That is why we are including this disclaimer.

Calgary’s only indoor skatepark, The Compound, has updated their hours for the fall skateboarding season. Check out their site for info about the drop in sessions and skate camps.

Contact them for current hours.


The Compound Sneak Peak from Riders On Board on Vimeo.

Indoor Skateparks

If the weather is bad, go check out the City of Calgary Mobile Skateparks at Ernie Starr Arena or Murray Copot Arena (next to Huntington Hills Skatepark). Click the photo below for hours of operation. Helmets are required but there is no cost.


The Compound is another option for an indoor park. Click on their logo below for info:

10 Year Old Jett Meets With Councillor Woolley

We were present at a meeting between 10 year old student, Jett, his mom, and Ward 8 Councillor Woolley. Jett is passionate about skateboarding and has done a lot of research on indoor skateparks.

With all the new outdoor skateparks being developed, we’re optimistic that the need for an indoor skatepark will be addressed. The Skateboard Amenities Strategy recommends an indoor skatepark for the city:

“Find a suitable location for one or more indoor skateparks or wheeled sport facilities to comprise an area of at least 1,850 m2 (20,000 ft2). An indoor facility may be located in an existing building or be a purpose built facility that is clustered with a recreation centre. Indoor facilities should serve both skateboarders, bmx, inline skaters and provide a fitness track for roller skaters. See page 50.” (Skateboard Amenities Strategy, 2011, p. 9)

woolley jett maria

Indoor Skatepark Survey

A couple of weeks we told you of Jason Huang’s crowdfunding efforts for an indoor skatepark. He’s put together a survey in order to learn more about what Calgary skaters might want in an indoor park. Please take a minute to complete it at this link.

Indoor Skatepark Crowdfunding

Local skater Jason Huang has set up an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in the hopes of bringing an indoor skatepark to Calgary. Click the photo to read a Metro Calgary article about him and his efforts:

indoor skatepark indiegogo

Skate Life/Dalhousie Church on Global News

On November 22nd, Global News featured Skate Life at Dalhousie Community Church. Hopefully stories like these help remind the public that skateboarding in Calgary during the winter months is very limited.

Dalhousie Community Church Skatelife

Winter is here and, although there hasn’t been much snow yet, it’s definitely cold outside. That means another skateboarding season has come to an end. Calgary still has no indoor skatepark.
The only public option, currently, is “Skatelife” on Tuesday nights at Dalhousie Community Church. Click the image below for more info:

dalhousie

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