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.

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