Last Monday, I brought a notice of motion calling upon the City of North Vancouver to provide safe space for skateboarders in our community. I brought this forward to ensure that there was engagement of the skate community in the development of future skating infrastructure following the removal of the Lonsdale Skatepark.
We need safe spaces for skateboarding, by which I mean spaces where skateboarders are encouraged to skate, and that may include rails, stairs, benches, and other obstacles boarders can ride upon.
My motion was a follow up to a motion passed the week before where Council endorsed creating an interim skate location at Mahon Park during Harry Jerome construction after the removal of the existing Lonsdale skatepark. While there are other skate facilities on the North Shore, only one is the same style of “street skateboarding” that was offered by the Lonsdale Park. All other locations are skatebowls for “vert” style skateboarding. An interim location was needed to support the street skating community that would otherwise have been left without a street skating location.
My motion, in fact, went beyond the interim location to ask staff to work with North Van Recreation Commission to chart a path for the future of skateboarding facilities.
Facilities are managed by the Commission and a plan for skateboarding facilities in the long term is needed to allow skate park users to know what is planned and how it will meet their needs. What is the community looking for? The skateboarding community is looking for covered areas that allow them to skate year round. This was originally part of the Harry Jerome concepts, but was later excluded.
Skateboarding has, in the past, been looked down upon as an activity or thought of as just for teens. Through my work on this notice of motion, I learned this isn’t true. A number of different age groups are represented including individuals who spoke at Council on April 4th who were in their 60s. Members of the skateboarding community come from all ages, genders, and ethnicities. This community does not discriminate and we need more of this approach to life in North Vancouver.
Skateboarding is also recognized as an activity that supports physical and mental health. It teaches persistence to those who practice the activity as they attempt, again and again, to land the next trick.
I think that planning for the future of skateboarding is necessary to ensure the mental and physical health benefits can be attained. Skateparks in North Vancouver also support economic vitality with a number of “board-related” businesses on Lonsdale. No plan, to my knowledge, currently exists for the future of skateboarding.
The City of North Vancouver is a vibrant City and a City for People, and skateboarding aligns with and supports both those goals.
Tony Valente is a Councillor with the City of North Vancouver.