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.