01 SkatePark SpalledSurface

- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Before the rain, I took a break from re-watching Monday's three and a half hour Special Council Meeting and took a walk.

This is my job. Following, as best I can, what happens at city council, asking questions, looking more deeply into things that puzzle or concern me or our readers.

I'd just watched the part where council committed $75,000 to rehabilitation of the Skateboard Park at Victoria Park this fall.

So I walked over to the skateboard park.

There were only two people there, and they gave me a great tour of the park. The young men, both twenty, are new friends who met there.

“We are so passionate about boarding, we are willing to hurt ourselves every day,” laughed one of the men, a welder at one of the newer local suppliers to OPG and Bruce Power.

“I come here after work to just relax and wind down.”

His friend is a third year marine navigation student at Georgian, who might have been spoiled by the Algoport Skate & BMX Park in his home town of Port Colborne.

First I asked about the fencing which was wide open. It went up this spring, with no notice and no signage, closing off the west end of the park where the concrete surface was quite deteriorated.

skategrindrailIn June I noticed people inside the fence which was open about three feet, and is held together with zip ties. I was assured by Adam Parsons, Manager of Parks and Open Space, that “staff attend daily and close the fence when required”.

According to the men, it has been fully open for several days. One of the foot plates from the bottom of the fencing was upside down and being used as a jump. There is still no signage anywhere.

“If only the city would maintain the park,” the men lament, pointing at the weeds growing up along the grind rails, and the large pieces of concrete and piles of small stones they had removed from the surface before they could safely ride.

The spalled concrete is not their safety concern, they said, “You can see and avoid those patches.”

What really causes the falls is hitting the small stones they can't see.

skateboardrakerSo before they ride, they sweep. And they're not the only ones – I took this picture back in May of another young man – not a city employee – raking debris from the surface.

One of the men claims a fellow boarder got Tetanus from a cut on his leg when he went through this hole in the fibreglass surface of the half bowl.

I can't verify that, but it is definitely large enough to catch the whole foot of some of the six and seven year olds I see riding their scooters on it, and has been all season.

skateboardholeManager Parsons had this to say about the plan for that: “The wear point in the half bowl was repaired by the supplier previously, and that repair has since worn out. I noted this on my recent playspace inspection and we are working to have steel panels produced to replace the curved and pie-shaped original fibreglass corner panels. Given the current state of the skate park our preference is to keep the half bowl feature available to users.”

The men show me the abutting concrete surfaces that have two centimetre or more height differences, the grinding rail that is coming detached from the concrete bench.

"The gap where the half bowl has risen off the concrete makes going down doable but not going back up." 

They say these are just some of the things that make the park more dangerous and less fun for both children and real enthusiasts practising their skills.

“Frankly I spend more time skateboarding in a local parking lot than here,” says the Georgian student, although he clearly enjoys the company at the park.

"The condition of this park just brings down the image of the city."

He also said an updated park would be a great complement to the indoor winter skate facility that he says Bikeface is planning over at its new location in the former Edward's plant. 

"This is a great activity for all ages, and it is much cheaper than hockey for families."

The plan is to start the $75,000 rehabilitation on September 15, and complete it by October 31.

In the meantime, the city continues to rent construction fencing for $350 a month even if it is being regularly opened, but it may constitute due diligence for insurance purposes.

Taxpayers pay that insurance, and liability claims drive it up.

According to the staff report, rehabilitation of the park will bring the city into full legislative compliance with the Occupier's Liability Act.

More information on the history of the skateboard park can be found here and more on the rehabilitation can be found here.








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