City urged to ramp up building of skateparks
Pastime once greeted warily, now accepted and promoted
A new study says the city should roll out more skateboarding opportunities in parks.
The study evaluates likely sites for up to nine new dedicated facilities aimed at skateboarders — and also in-line skaters and BMX bikers — between now and 2031.
It also weighs in on the popularity and value of Hamilton’s “rare hotbed of skate culture,” going so far as to label the beloved-but-crumbling concrete at Beasley Park as a “youth and heritage cultural site.”
The study found a growing demand for — and acceptance of — skateparks that suggests city residents have done a 180 on a sport that once spawned not-in-my-backyard protests.
Sean Corrigan is not surprised by the findings.
The 16-year-old skateboarder helped put together a 311-name petition last year calling for a skatepark in Ancaster.
“It makes sense to me, because so many young kids are getting into the sport,” said Corrigan, whose closest skatepark is Turner Park on Rymal Road East, about 12 kilometres away. “It’s always busy. The demand is only getting worse.”
That facility only exists today because residents living around the original intended site, McQuesten Park, turned out by the hundreds to oppose the plan. Turner Park was chosen in 2005 in part because of a built-in police presence and promises of video monitoring to combat fears of vandalism or graffiti.
But fast-forward to today — parents and community members are asking for skate parks to give youth a healthy, active outlet, according to comments gathered in the latest study.
That was also one of the rationales used to justify the more recent addition of an experimental BMX pump track at vandalism-prone Gage Park.
The latest report is meant to guide future construction of skateparks recommended in an earlier “outdoor study” of recreational facilities that had previously forecast demand in areas across the city.
The latest report uses feedback from public meetings and surveys to further evaluate specific city parks.
Corrigan, who is also part of a team that created a smartphone app showing skating and BMX sites across the GTA, was pleased to hear Ancaster’s community centre was ranked high on the candidate list, along with Valley Park in Stoney Creek and Alexander Park in west Hamilton.
But there is stiff competition for new infrastructure — and not a lot of money to go around. A 10,000square-foot skatepark can range from $370,000 to $520,000, depending on what amenities — think ramps or bowls — are installed.
Stoney Creek Coun. Doug Conley said design work for a Valley Park skateboarding facility is underway, but added there may not be building cash in the budget until 2019.
“I would say there is a demand for it — I received a petition — but there is demand for other recreational amenities as well,” he said, pointing in particular to splash pads. “At this point, there is more demand than there is money.”
The city also has work to do at its existing skate parks, some of which are dealing with noise issues or just falling apart. The reports notes badly needed improvements at “the Beaz,” the skatepark in the Beasley neighbourhood considered one of the oldest in North America.
“While Beasley has great history and a loyal following of users who honed their skills at this park for many years, the upgrades being planned … are much needed and the sentiment of local senior skaters is that the improvements are long overdue.”
A “long-anticipated” redevelopment of the park is coming this summer, said Ward Coun. Jason Farr, with planned changes “based on the direct input of skaters. They know best.”
A faster — and cheaper — alternative might be the addition of a “skateable bench, rail or small ledge wall” in many city parks adds the report. Councillors will consider the study at a meeting Wednesday.
Cameron Henley, 12, negotiates the terrain at the Beaz in Beasley Park, considered one of the oldest skateparks in North America.
A report calls for more skating facilities in the city.
The skatepark in Beasley Park is in need of repairs.