Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Best There is to Offer in Skatepark Design and Community Integration.

The Best There is in Skateparks
In my travels to skateparks across Canada I've seen some interesting and well executed skateparks and some horrible ones as well. This article is a compilation of some of the best things I have witnessed in skatepark design and community integration. 

Park Sizes
A skate dot is a single skateable item that could be placed in any park. It may be as simple as a ledge or a piece of art intended to be skated.
Richmond Hill has added small features, meant to be skated, in several parks.

A skate spot is a small skate area, best suited to neighborhoods or as a skate facility in a large community park catering to many interests. They can be designed to fit into a space where no other activity will fit. Skate spots can be simple yet functional, like Springbank or Leitchcroft, or conceptual, like Ray St. or Berczy Park Skatespot.

Springbank Park, London, ON

 Leitchcroft Skatespot, Markham.

 Berczy Park Skatespot, Markham

Ray St. Skatespot, Markham

A community skatepark is a larger park appealing to all users and may attract skaters from outside the area to visit. Community parks are large enough to handle events such as contests and summer camps.
Six Nations Skatepark, Ohsweken, ON. This park is well crafted with references to local heritage and a granite ledge.

A regional skatepark is the largest and is designed to be a destination park. Regional parks are large enough to handle large numbers of users at a time, professional demos, contests, camps and other events.
Ashbridges Bay Skate Plaza, Toronto, hosts summer camps, contests and pro demos.

Lighting at a skatepark serves a few purposes. It allows the park to be safely used later into the evening and indicates the park closing at night. The skatepark in Brockville, Ontario has lighting that operates until 11pm in the summer. At 10:55 half the lights shut down indicating the impending end of the session. Five minuets later the rest of the lights turn off. This progressive shut down prevents an unsafe, sudden blackout of the park.
Brockville Skatepark at Night by @thejamesnoble

The King City skatepark also it lit until 11 but also has a manual on/off button for energy savings. Users of the park can turn the lights off when they leave and the lights will not operate after 11pm.

King City lighting controls.

Skatepark lighting is not provided at the Vanderhoof Bowl(The Hoof) in Leonard Linton Park in Toronto but there is a accessible power supply that skaters can use. Many nights in the summer, locals set up their own lights and have a session.

Night Session at The Hoof, Toronto

Shade and Off-park Viewing
Brampton's Chinguacousy Skatepark has a large shade structure over an upper section of the park.

Chinguacousy Park, Brampton

Acton's Three Muskatears Skatepark and Six Nations Skatepark in Ohsweeken have gazebos for parents to relax in while watching their kids or park users to get out of the sun.

Acton's 3 Muskatears Skatepark & Osweken's Six Nations Skatepark

Woodstock added some reclaimed bleacher seating at both ends of the park.

Indoor & Covered Parks
Rain, blazing sun and snow are all realities of Canadian Skateparks. Newmarket runs a public indoor skatepark at a low cost to attendees.

Skatepark at the Newmarket Youth & Recreation Centre.

Cities across North America have made use of seldom used space beneath overpasses and bridges for skateparks. These parks are covered or partially covered allowing year round use.

Underpass park in Toronto made use of the space but installed a sub-par park.

Plaza 1 Skatepark in Saint John, NB is partially covered and makes great use of the space.

Beginner to Advanced skill levels can be accommodated in one park with the right design
The park at Audley Recreation Centre(ARC) in Ajax is designed with all skill levels in mind. There is a small quarter pipe and a bowl. There are 3, 5 and 8 stair sets with associated rails and hubbas(angled ledges).

Small quarter pipe and Big bowl.

5, 3 and 8 stair sets can be seen left to right as well as the skateable AJAX feature

Customization & Personal Touches
There are unlimited possibilities for personal touches with current construction techniques. The ARC has skatable 'AJAX' structures(See above). Picton has a rotating 'PAC-MAN' manny pad.

This manual pad spins.

Marina Plaza in Thunder Bay has a Sleeping Giant.
The sculpture of the sleeping giant.

 Even smaller parks can be made to stand out. The Uxbridge skatepark has embedded 'Rotary Club' emblems.

A small skatespot in Cambridge features a flat rail mounted on a laser cut slab of sheet metal rather than the typical legs. This could be used to spell out anything and really brand the park to the local community.

More Standout Features

Caesarea's Skatepark. This waterfront town's park features waves and anchors. 

This Wampum Belt feature at Six Nations Skatepark in Ohsweken was made by sandblasting the design and hand painting each tile.

PD Block at the Port Dover Skatepark. Celebrating 100 skateparks back in 2011.

Elmira's Skatepark's Grand Opening. The maple leaf was suggested (by me) based on 
Elmira's Maple Syrup Festival.

Railway City Skatepark in St. Thomas has several railroad themed elements including the use of a real train track rail.

This ledge is supported by rocks excavated from the site at the Campbellford Skatepark.

 Tree stump volcano at Isaac Riehl Memorial Skatepark in Pelham, features inspiring words and tree rings.

Skateable sculpture at The Forks, Winnipeg, MB. 

Sutton Skatepark's well placed sign is visible from the road.

Community Involvement
Scarborough and East York both have community clean up days where riders get together to pick up litter and repaint murals on the park.

Markham, Ashbridges Bay and ARC have hosted demo's of pro skaters. The EY Skate Loft and CJ's Skatepark host Skateboard movie screenings and premieres. All that's needed for a screening is power, a projector and a large quaterpipe on which to project.

From  A skate film is screened at the 
Mountain Dew Skatepark in The Philippines.

Both the ARC and the Pickering skatepark have summer camps and contests in conjunction with local skate shop, Swich Skate & Snow in Ajax.

Day one of skate camp in Ajax (photo courtesy of Switch).

Skateboard compitition at the Pickering Skatepark (photo courtesy of Switch).

The Vanderhoof Bowl hosts an annual contest, Hoedown at the Hoof, which draws skaters from across North America.

Integration into Community Parks
The Pickering skatepark was placed in an out of the way area and while it is used by locals, it is also the target of less attractive behaviour.
Some of the best new skateparks are well integrated into the community they serve. Turner park in Hamilton is located between a YMCA and Hamilton Police station.
Skateable sculptures, bowl and lighting at Turner Park, Hamilton next to the police station.

Sonoma Heights' Skatepark is nestled between the playground and basketball court on one side and a baseball diamond, washrooms and a splash pad on the other.

Campbellford's skatepark is in a beautiful park by the river surrounded by green hills, and next to a playground, splash pad and canteen.
This park also features real and artificial stone finishes.

The Skatepark at The Forks is only a small part of Winnipeg's beautiful waterfront. It is located at the social and cultural hub of the city surrounded by shopping, dining, a baseball stadium and the Museum of Human Rights. One of the largest and the most expensive skateparks in Canada, at the time of it's opening, fits into this setting rather than standing out. It's plaza style layout features everything skaters could want plus sculptures and a large, seperate bowl with plenty of viewing areas.

Combating Graffiti
Centennial Skatepark In Markham has always been very attractive to the eye. It's coloured concrete, boarder gardens and surrounding trees make it appealing, even to non-skaters. It has always been well kept and graffiti free. This has led to the legend that the park is treated with a substance that allows paint to wash off in the rain. The reality is less magical. While there are treatments that allow graffiti to be removed with less effort, Markham's vigilance to keep the park clean has resulted in it being an unattractive location for taggers. They know paint will be removed immediately and don't waste their time.
Markham's Centennial Skatepark.

Millenium Skatepark in Calgary uses a professional company that applies a solution to remove graffiti. They also photograph tags and pass them onto the police.
Sandblasting and powerwashing should never be used on a skatepark as it damages the riding surface.
Calgary's Millenium Skatepark. Graffiti removal truck and worker can be seen top and right.

Other parks have used paint to combat paint. The Hoof is repainted every year for the contest and experiences much less graffiti than before it was painted.
Freshly painted Hoof Bowl

Other parks have had professional murals painted on the surface to combat tagging.

Carolina Skatepark. Photo by Paul Zimmerman
Story HERE on Skaters for Public Skateparks.

Feel free to read 'The Perils of Pre-fab' which highlight the many benefits of choosing a Poured in Place(PIP) concrete skatepark over modular skate obstacles.

Check out the follow-up article; The Best of the Best in Skateparks: Part 2 

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