October 18th, 2010 will be an important day in Calgary. Citizens will vote for a new Mayor and many new aldermen. If you’re eligible to vote, you should.
What does this have to do with skateboarding? Lots. Mayoral candidate and current alderman Joe Connelly was the one who introduced the “skateboard strategy” that will hopefully lead to us getting more skateparks and update the anti-ramp bylaw.
We at CASE aren’t going to tell you who to vote for but we’d like to share with you this entry from Joe Connelly’s blog, dated June 21st (Go Skateboarding Day):

I believe Calgary is a great city to live and to raise a family. It attracted me here over 30 years ago to do exactly that. But I also believe that with our rapid growth, and as the youngest average-aged city in Canada, we have fallen woefully behind in providing our children with safe and up-to-standard recreational facilities. Facilities like soccer fields, hockey arenas, paddle courts, full-service gymnasiums and yes – skateboard parks. Hence, my motion today to have administration meet with key stakeholders to scope and develop a long-term Skateboard Strategy for the 30,000 plus skateboarders who live in Calgary today.

Children of all ages need safe facilities where they can play, stay active and adopt a keen interest in a healthy way of life. But perhaps more important, where they can learn life’s soft skills of teambuilding, excelling at something beneficial, and working towards a common goal. Where they can reap the positive social and community benefits that come with athletic and cultural involvement. I like to call it “more face time and less Facebook”.

Our Calgary Police Force does a tremendous job under the leadership of Chief Rick Hansen in not only enforcing law, but in working to deter young people from getting into trouble in the first place. Keeping youngsters informed about the negative effects of drugs and gangs, and educating youth on the consequences of a wrong turn in life. But they will tell you, and I completely agree, that the vicious circle of drugs and crime starts in keeping children busy. Active in sports. Interested in the arts. Providing them with safe places to go such that these interests incubate and confidence is built. Confidence to say “no” to the many temptations that result in criminal behaviour.

Skateboarding is not a crime. That was a popular bumper sticker several years ago and as the father of two skateboarders, I agree. Losing a portion of Millenium Skate Park with the LRT construction has put a dramatic strain on the overall boarding area available in Calgary. As a result, children are spilling out into streets and neighborhoods where it is not safe for boarders, pedestrians or drivers. Just Saturday night a team of 12 – 14 young boarders took over an entire lane on 10 Street NW racing down the hill along SAIT and Riley Park. The combination of dark skies and dark clothing made for a very dangerous situation and an accident waiting to happen.

My vision, should the residents of Calgary show their confidence in electing me as Mayor, is to build a great city for everyone. But especially our children. We have a tremendous amount of green space and pathway systems which are important. But now we need to catch up with providing Calgarians with useful recreational facilities. Particularly in this case since Millenium Park has had to give way to progress in our public transit infrastructure.

I would like to thank my Council colleagues and the many boarders of all ages who today showed their commitment not only to a Skateboard Strategy for Calgary, but the bigger vision of providing more recreational facilities overall. The future of skateboarding is a good place to start.

Joe Connelly

Mayoral Candidate

Delivering on why you live here…..

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