Tuesday, 15 September 2015

My Speech to the Executive Committee

My Speech to the Executive Committee

Firstly, I’d like to thank the Executive Committee for letting me speak today on this important issue.
My name is Scott Loyst.  I am a lifelong skater, a 10 year Paramedic, Pickering Resident for the same amount of time and more recently, a parent.
I am speaking in support of building a skate spot at Petticoat Creek Community Centre.
Skating is not the fringe sport it once was – there are more than 15 million North American skaters of all ages & an estimated 4-7% of the Canadian population skates.  Skating is on the world stage as a multi-million $ industry with televised events.
There were many concerns brought up at the open house and these included noise, undesirable activity and graffiti.  I understand and respect that residents have these concerns.  Everyone wants to live in a peaceful and community.
State of current Pickering park                   The City of Pickering was very progressive when they built a skatepark in the late 90’s. Since then, skatepark construction has improved greatly and some skateparks are virtually works of engineering and architectural art.  I understand why the current skateparks condition may be used by those who oppose a new skateboard facility. The location of the old skatepark does not allow for passive observance and the approved graffiti area encourages tagging of the park. Even with its poor design it is well used by skaters and bmx’ers.
Noise    While it is true that modular ramps, like at Ajax Community Centre, with transition plates and hollow metal obstacles can produce a lot of noise, a properly built poured in place concrete skatepark, like the park at Audley Recreation Centre, produce much less sound.  Portland State University in their study entitled “The Urban Grind” studied sound levels and community parks with and without skateparks.  They determined the sound levels from a 10000sqft PIP park at 50ft produced peak readings of 70dB. Similar to that of passing cars or a basketball game & at 200ft skatepark sounds were drowned out by ambient noise.
Crime    This same study found that there is no correlation between skateboard parks and serious crime.  In the case of London, ON, it has been reported that police experience no higher degree of issues associated with skateparks than with other park amenities that serve as gathering points such as swing-sets and play equipment.  London, I might add, has 11 skateboarding facilities. Most are in small neighbourhood parks close to the residents they serve.
Graffiti                  While many appreciate graffiti as an art form, most skaters do not want paint on the riding surface as it affects traction.  Other communities have prevented graffiti and vandalism by having the park on camera. Turner Skatepark in Hamilton, ON, is video monitored and located between a Hamilton Police stn and the YMCA.  The park in Fort Erie, ON, is located by that towns City Hall and is on 24 hour camera which is also accessible from the internet to anyone.
Safety   As far as safety is concerned, statistics from health Canada indicate less than 0.35 of skaters suffer injuries that require medical attn. That ranks skating safer than hockey, baseball, soccer and Fishing.  It is also noted in the Health Canada report that less than 5% of skateboarding injuries occur in the skatepark.  Of course helmets and pads are always recommended to help prevent injuries. Skaters for Public Skateparks is a non-profit skatepark advocacy group that tracks data on skateboarding.  They put out a yearly report of skateboarding related fatalities. Last year in the United States there were 28 skateboard related deaths  – 23 of those were struck by a vehicle while none occurred in a skatepark.
Skateboarding is a low cost activity for anyone and provides unstructured opportunities for all-ages to develop and master skills, engage in physical exercise and activity and socialize in a constructive environment. Skating teaches the young users how to share the space, how to interact with other users and how to take turns.   Skateboarding has no racial, gender, age or socio-economic barriers. Anyone can skate and the sense of community skating brings is indescribable.
As a paramedic, my shift work makes it difficult to commit to a scheduled team sport. I am able to get enjoyment and exercise when I skate.
As a tax payer, I support any endeavour that will allow residents to get out and be active doing something that they love.
I’d like to close with a post from the Facebook wall of the St. Mary’s Stonetown Skatepark Facebook page. The post reads simply “Hayden, you left your puffer at the park.” Now to me, that says community.

Again thanks you for letting me speak in support of this project. I hope this Skatepark acts as a BAROMETER and speaks to the need for additional small skate facilities in the great City of Pickering.  Thank You.

September 14th, 2015 Executive Council Meeting Follow-up

September 14th, 2015 Executive Council Meeting Follow-up

So, Pickering is no closer to getting a new park than before the meeting but at the same time, we are no further either.  Executive Council voted 5 to 2 to have Parks dept. form a skatepark strategy for the 2016 budget or ASAP.

Here's how the meeting went down.
6 other skaters who had found the poster were also in attendance.( Thanks for coming out guys & girl) 
Myself and a friend had signed up to speak in council chambers as had 3 members of a group of approximately 12 seniors who oppose the location of the park.
All those in opposition began by saying that they had nothing against skateboarders.
The first gentleman gave a somewhat unprepared speech and commented on the state of the current Pickering skatepark, the lack of nets in the basketball hoops and the lack of youth currently using the Petticoat Creek community centre. He also presented a petition signed by 96 residents opposing the park.
He took his 10 minutes was applauded by his group. Council then asked that there be no applause.
I was next and delivered my speech with you can read HERE if you like. I was admittedly terrified but I made it through and then felt less that I was going to barf. Council proceeded to ask me about 5 questions which I felt comfortable answering.
After I returned to my seat, the first gentleman rose and asked to add something to his earlier speech. He was told he had used his 10 and could not. 
The next speaker was the youngest of the opposition group. She had her own notes prepared but was also given an article the first gent had tried to add. She had not read it and stated it was a 2013 article stating skateboarding was on the decline. No source given (Edit - I've found the article. It's conveniently titled 'The Death of Skateboarding' on the website 'Love Extreme Sports'. It sites "a recent report" stating the popularity of skateboarding as a Google search term has decreased. The "source" is a blog, like mine, with 3 posts and the data is from Google Trends.) 
My friend, Jay, spoke. When he gave his address as Whitby, old folks scoffed at him. Rude!
He was great and spoke to the benefits of skateboarding.
Another opposition speaker, who had some constructive points as to where other parks could go.
The last 'Pro' speaker is a Father who is tired of taking his 40mins away to scooter. He was 'no nonsense' and said he was not surprised by the opposition delegates.  He was then heckled by the first guy. The Father then commented on the 2013 article saying that he doesn't believe it to be true but if it is, it is only due to an increase in BMX and scooter use. Again, he was interrupted by the opposition, who were told to be quiet and the Father was asked to only address the committee.
The Delegation session over, myself and the other skaters excused ourselves and met in the hall.  I was approached by a reporter from the News Advertiser. She took my name and info for an interview later.
I returned to the chamber to await the vote.  
Arnold Mostert, Sr. Coordinator; Land & Park Development, gave a presentation on how the site selection was made and how Petticoat Creek was chosen.  The department wanted a location that is central but at the opposite end of the city from Princess Diana park.
Mayor Ryan and Councillor Ashe both questioned why the current park wasn't put on the assessment chart. It was revealed that there was a tender to improve (replace the mini ramp) the current park but due to its low value no bids were received. The new parks expanded budget would include not only the new skate spot but repairs to Princess Diana.
It was recommended by council there should be a reassessment, again, and it might be better to invest in a facelift of the old park rather than place a park in an area that doesn't want it.
Many of the councillors made reference to what I had said about the park being one of the worst 5 in Canada to mean it was unrideable.  I felt it would be out of order to correct them: that’s why I kept notes.
Councillor Pickles stated he thought the skate spot is a good idea and repairs do not need to be in advance of the micro park.
Councillor McLean said he was amazed at how the youth interact and help each other. "We have to keep kids occupied. I think this is a good location." He also stated council should move forward with a park at Petticoat Creek or St. Mary’s.
The Mayor moved to have the Park dept. form a skatepark strategy by the 2016 budget or as soon as possible.
Voted 5 to 2 in favor.

I left chambers and met Arnold. I expressed interest in assisting any way possible and gave a copy of my speech and have since provided him with additional information. We were approached by the First Gentleman who said we looked “Buddy-buddy” and alleged there was a conspiracy to push the skatepark through without informing residents.  I just smiled at him because to love your enemy just angers them more.
I’m glad I wasn’t alone in this but more support is always needed. Let me know if you want to help.

Scott
  
New Pickering Skatepark Information


Georgetown, ON

Georgetown, ON

Mold Master SportsPlex

Mold Master SportsPlex.
221 Guelph St.

Jubilee Park


Jubilee Park on Niagara Trail.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

New Pickering Skatepark


I'm happy to inform you that there is movement towards a new skate spot in Pickering, ON. The Pickering Executive Committee is meeting Sept. 14 @ 2pm to discuss the proposed skate spot at Petticoat Creek Community Centre.  This has been determined to be the most suitable location for a new skateboard facility.  The budget has been set at $200000. This is meant to be a community based skate spot and not a large city park.  There is also word of improvements to the current park and a future park in Seaton.  
There has been concerns from local residents who oppose the park for reasons such as crime, noise and waste of tax dollars (Can't Afford Luxury of a Second Skatepark). 

If you wish to speak in favor (or opposition) of the park you can sign up here -- Speakers
Any show of support would be great.

If you need some motivation or information you can grab it @ The Tony Hawk Foundation & Skaters for Public Skateparks. Both are great resources for statistics on skateparks, skaters, injuries and noise levels.  A full presentation on skateparks from Kitchener can be found HERE

I hope this will be a productive and respectful meeting. It's a chance to show what skateboarding (& BMX or Scooters) mean to us.

Below are some concepts that are being thrown around. The city wants a small skate spot that is aesthetically pleasing. 
Skateable sculpture at Quebec City Plaza
Skateable kicker gap sculpture at Quebec City Plaza
Leitchcroft skate trail in Markham
Multi-use ledge at Millennium Park in Ottawa
Sonoma Skate spot in Vaughan
Multi-use Ledge found in several parks in Chatham-Kent area
Ledge/manny pad in Pelham.

 At this time there is no design in the works. Hopefully a public design meeting will be held when a skatepark builder is picked.

More information will be added as I receive it.