The first mobile skatepark in Calgary was built in 1997 during initial talks about Calgary’s first permanent skatepark. Programming ran between July and August and the park was located in the neighbourhoods of Southland, Silver Springs, and Downtown (at 5th Ave and 5th St). The mobile skatepark was so successful that community associations requested the skatepark the following year, and thus the mobile skatepark program was born.
One set of ramps turned into two, then four, and in 2017 the program was expanded to include 6 parks worth of ramps that could be set up around the city simultaneously. In 2017 there were 24 communities that hosted mobile skateparks for either two weeks or a month between May and September.
The mobile skateparks have serviced areas without permitted, permanent skateparks and travelled throughout all quadrants of the city throughout the summer. For years the only indoor skateboarding opportunities in the city where when the mobile parks were in recreation centre indoor hockey rinks, like Village Square. Rain or shine, this gave youth (CASE board members included, back in the day) a local opportunity to skate without having to rely on transit or parents to drive you downtown or out to one of the skateparks in surrounding towns (Cochrane, Airdrie, Okotoks, etc). While parents were at work, they could relax knowing that their children were in a safe environment, operated by the City, that allows them to hang out all day, make new friends, get active, and learn new and valuable skills.
The mobile skatepark program has employed local skateboarders who have been helpful, friendly, and got the youth stoked about skateboarding. This helped strengthen the relationship between the City and skateboarding community. The mobile parks have been a low barrier entry to skateboarding for youth. Staff helped parents and youth realize that the skatepark is a welcoming environment that supports skaters of all levels and fosters a real sense of community. Staff members even taught lessons to those new to skateboarding.
The City has used the mobile parks for collecting valuable data used in important decision making regarding where to locate permanent skateparks. The mobile parks have also contributed to the Calgary skate scene through events like skate jams and competitions in collaboration with Calgary skate advocacy groups and skate shops alike. In 2018 alone the mobile parks hosted 24 competitions from June to September.
We are now looking to communicate with the City to understand what is next for the mobile skateparks and find out if there is any way we can work with them to ensure that the parks are used in some capacity in the future.
For an in depth look at the past 20 years of skatepark development in Calgary, check out Board Member Jeff Hanson’s master’s thesis: Collaborate, Participate, and Skate.
We hope that you can check out the mobile skateparks before September 5. For the list of locations, dates, and hours, please visit the city’s website.