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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What's the future of skateboard parks in Toronto?

skateboard park torontoThe City of Toronto is currently collecting information on skateboarders and skateparks through a survey that's open until November 30.

It's part of a citywide skatepark strategy, the result of collaborative efforts between the Toronto Skateboard Committee and the community development unit at Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation.

"Ultimately, the point of it is to have a better understanding of who is using skateparks, how they're using them, and how popular they are," says TSC co-chairman Migs Bartula. The survey responses, along with the skatepark strategy as a whole, will guide the TSC and the parks department in deciding where to build future parks.

There are currently 19 skateparks in the city, five of which are indoor facilities. Another five of the 19 are seasonal.

One of the more recent ones to have opened is Scarborough's Malvern Skatepark (2013), which was the result of the efforts of a local high school club and support from a United Way seed grant. For the past two years, the park's popularity among local skaters has grown, much like the popularity of skateboarding across the city.

West Lodge Skatepark opened last fall after members of the community showed strong support for the redesign of the underused park into a skateboard-friendly facility.

Another skatepark in East York was also built on the back of the enthusiasm of the skateboarding community. The park opened in 2007 after almost a decade of skaters from the neighbourhood campaigning the city for money.

And plans for a new skateboard facility are already underway. The TSC wants to build a skatepark under the Gardiner Expressway in the west end of Toronto as part of the Under the Gardiner project.

While a skatepark has not yet been proposed for the project, Bartula says the TSC "feels that this space would be ideal for such a facility and we will be exploring the possibility of having a concrete skatepark incorporated into the design of this space."

It's been done before. In 2012, the Underpass Skatepark opened, and it's functional throughout the winter because it's sheltered.

Yet despite the increase in skateparks since 2000, when the city had zero, some areas of Toronto are still underserviced by these facilities.

A map of skateparks shows plenty of holes in coverage. Skateboarders in North York and south Scarborough have limited parks available to them. Ditto for those in Etobicoke, where there are two parks in the south end and one at the northern end, but none in the central section.

"Skateboarding is not accessible if you have to travel 30 to 40 minutes to get to [a skatepark]," Bartula explains. Identifying the gaps in skatepark facilities across Toronto is part of the city's skateboard strategy.

Skateboard parks aren't the only recreational facilities that the city is focusing on right now. The skatepark strategy is part of the Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan, which aims to meet the recreational needs of Toronto's population as the city grows.

What do you think Toronto should do about skateboard parks? Let us know in the comments.

Photo by Ben Roffelsen in the blogTO Flickr pool.

by Alicja Grzadkowska via blogTO

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