Calgary, a city of well over a million people still has only one public skatepark. Edmonton has 10. This frustrating situation is set to change in a big way, as the Skateboard Amenity Strategy becomes a reality. The Strategy calls for 50 skateparks of various sizes, to be built in the next 10 years. Two candidates for City Council played crucial roles in getting the Strategy adopted, and CASE wants every Calgary voter to know about the contributions of these two candidates
Joe Connelly – Ward 6
CASE first met with then Alderman Joe Connelly in October 2009 to discuss the bylaw prohibiting backyard ramps in Calgary. Unaware that he was breaking a bylaw with his sons’ ramp in their yard, Joe took up the cause of changing the archaic bylaw. When he drafted a proposal to change the bylaw, he was unable to find another council member to second the motion, which is required before a motion can be discussed or voted on.
Despite this setback, Joe worked hard to help CASE partner with the City to host a Go Skateboarding Day event that year. Go Skate Day 2009 saw roaming skaters monitored by the HAWC helicopter, pursued by Police on the ground, and numerous tickets issued. To avoid a similar scene in 2010, CASE and the City hosted a very successful event at Mills, which has been repeated every year since (the Go Skate Day flood forced cancellation this year).
In June of 2010, Alderman Connelly proposed that the City develop a skateboarding strategy, which would make Calgary more skate friendly. CASE encouraged every skateboarder and supporter of skateparks to email or phone the Mayor and Aldermen, asking them to support Joe’s proposal. The massive email and phone response was so powerful, that the strategy proposal passed unanimously on Go Skateboarding Day 2010! This was the birth of the Strategy now being put in action by the City.
Alderman Connelly ran for Mayor in 2010, losing to Mayor Nenshi, leaving a void in support for skateboarding at City Hall.
Gian-Carlo Carra – Ward 9
Prior to running for City Council when he was President of the Inglewood Community Association, Gian-Carlo Carra worked with CASE to find a location for an indoor skatepark. Gian-Carlo understands how popular and well used an indoor skatepark would be and still strongly supports the need for them in out city. Unfortunately the potential location Gian-Carlo found fell through when the property owner indicated they were would need the property, so sadly we still don’t have an indoor skatepark.
In October of 2010, Gian-Carlo was elected Alderman. The election win put Gian-Carlo in position to advocate for skateboarding in the City. With the loss of Joe on Council, Calgary skaters needed an advocate at City Hall, and Gian Carlo fit the bill and more. Over the past three years he provided critical leadership and behind the scenes advocacy that helped see the award winning strategy completed and approved, and now move toward realizing the dream of new skateparks for Calgary. Last year Gian-Carlo also stepped up to help CASE by narrating our I SKATE promo video.
It’s your choice
CASE endorses these two candidates because they have both worked directly with us to support skateboarding and move plans for new skateparks forward. There are other members of the current Council who also support the Strategy, but we have not endorsed them because we have not worked directly with the other Councillors so we don’t have first hand understanding of their support for skateboarding.
Who you vote for is your choice, and that choice will no doubt be made based on other important issues, not only skateparks. In three years, Calgary has built powerful momentum towards building a network of skateparks in our city, and CASE wants to see that momentum continue. Please ask the candidates you are considering voting for what their policy is about “unstructured recreation opportunities”, the aspect of Parks and Recreation planning that concerns skateparks. Every vote for candidates that support the Strategy and building of skateparks, is important insurance that skatepark momentum will continue for the next four years.