With no new skate park on the horizon in St. Thomas, perhaps it is time to take a look at our larger neighbour to the North and how they have not only looked at the needs of their youth but actually done something impressive about it.
If you drive down Commissioners Road West past Springbank Park in Byron, you will notice that a brand new skate park appeared nearly over night. The park, which consists of a quarter pipe, stair and hand rail, half a pyramid, roll-in, and a couple of Jersey barriers is the product of an organized plan that the City of London has created to deal with the needs of skaters throughout London.
The strategy recognizes that skateboarding is one of the fastest growing sports in Canada and that they had to provide facilities to meet this growing need. The Outdoor Skate Park Implementation Strategy makes note of the benefits of the sport, which are:
Skate parks provide unstructured opportunities for children and youth (and the young at heart!) to develop and master skills for both skateboard and top electronic longboard riders; engage in physical exercise and activity; and socialize in a constructive environment. This sport is appealing to a large segment of youth who are not otherwise drawn to more traditional (team) sports.
When contacted about the skate park, a Landscape Architect/Parks Planner from the Parks Planning & Design Section department of Planning, Environmental and Engineering Services, explained that to build the skate park, meetings where held with the public with regards to the location of the park as well as discussions with the skate boarders, who had contacted the city regarding a skate park in Bryon, themselves for input on what the skate park would consist of. Once location and the contents of the skate park were decided, the city council approved it and the process moved to the next stop, construction.
The city hired a well-known, international Landscape Architecture and Development consulting firm, van der Zalm + Associates to craft the final design of the park. The tender for the actual construction was awarded to Patterned Concrete, a company with a lot of experience with skate board parks. With final approval from the City Council coming in February 2012, no time was wasted as construction began in early May and is to have the final touches put in by mid July.
The city of London has a Neighbourhood Skate Park Notice of Interest form for people who would like to have a skate park built, but before anything else, representatives of the city will meet with both people in the neighbourhood and the skaters themselves.
Along with the providing of the facilities, there are guidelines as to the use of the parks as well as summers jobs to keep the parks safe as well as teach the art of skating to children.
So not only has the City of London recognized an issue, it has done something about it. It has created its Outdoor Skate Park Implementation Strategy and then followed through with it by having the process to provide the recreational facilities that are needed.
The city of St. Thomas could learn a lot from our neighbour to the North on how to not only provide for the youth but how to incorporate them in the process.