Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Pickering Skateboard Park Strategy is Approved!

The Pickering Skateboard Park Strategy is Approved!

For more on how we got to this point click HERE.

At the last open house I gave 2 pages of suggested edits to Bill of New Line Skateparks. The latest draft of the Strategy took most of them into account.

On Jan 8th 2018, The Strategy & the Parks and Rec Master Plan went before Exectutive Committee. Both documents can be found HERE & HERE.
The Minuets of the meeting can be found HERE but here's my breakdown of the meeting. 

First the committee had the consultant, Todd Brown of Monteith Brown, and the skatepark strategist, Travis Martin from van der Zalm & Associates, go first. This was to, perhaps, answer any questions people had and thus reduce the time needed for delegations(public speeches). It didn't. It was a bad move by committee because they were not allowed to address peoples concerns afterwards. 

There were 3 delegates who had pre-registered. One group from the Racquetball/Handball club and a Speaker who runs the Pickleball (a low impact tennis ) Club. 

I gave my brief delegation in support of the Strategy stating the skaters support the entrity of the document including the construction of the new park at the front of the Rec Complex in place of the roundabout. 
Committee asked me several questions regarding noise, danger and unsavoury behaviour. I referred to The Urban Grind study regarding sound, Skaters for Public Skateparks for injury reports and recent posts on social media. One person had mentioned that the new location would not let him drink and smoke. Others told him to take that delinquent stuff elsewhere and comeback and skate. I was asked some questions and had to direct them to the strategy as the answer was there. 

I was thanked and sat down.

That's when things got stupid.(or democracy in action, I donno)

The floor was opened to additional delegates (basically, anyone with a mouth and an opinion could get up and take the mic for up to 10 minuets.)

The first gentleman, Jack, explained that he was the original architect of the Rec Complex. He was upset he was not personally consulted on potential changes to the Rec Complex. The front, he stated, is a completely inappropriate place for this skate park.  The location in the back is not 'out of the way', he continued and suggested the skatepark be rebuilt in the current location. HIS Rec Complex won an Award when it was constructed in 1983.  It would have been nice if Travis got to say VDZ has won multiple awards in the last 5 years. He did suggest an indoor skatepark and with the closing of the local Sears there would be room at the mall to 'ride down the escilators' as he put it.

Another old guy rambled about the parking and the roundabout and skateparks and ended with something about marijuana.

An Aside - weather or not legalised marijuana in Canada is something you support, smoking or vaping of any kind will still not be allowed in a public park( which a skatepark is) by law.

Another lady asked if snow removal on the waterfront trail could be explored as walking trails are a part of the Parks Plan. Another lady spoke in support of racquetball.

Then Jack's wife got up and said she supported her husband(duh), and said she wrote his speech. Dude. Write your own speech.

Another person supporting tennis and opposed to the roundabout.
A person supporting Pickleball.
A person supporting lawn bowling.

In all this Mr Mike Temos and Mr Spencer Torok got up and spoke in support of the Strategy and skateboarding.

Council then discussed the proposals and it wasn't looking good. There was major concern over the idea of the skatepark in the roundabout location.

Councillor Butt. I have to ask, did you read the Skateboard Park Strategy? You asked the parks staff several questions where the answers were easily found in the Strategy and the recommendations. How was the amount of skatepark space determined? Try pages 6-10. How will the park be funded? That's on page 34 and on your page of recommendations.

There was a motion the refer everything back to staff which lost and a motion to split the 3 items which also lost.
Thankfully Councillor Cumming gave a great explanation of the words 'In Principal'. He suggested the Strategy was a guide and endorsing it didn't mean any thing was set in stone without further debate, particularly the skatepark in the roundabout. This swayed a few other councillors and they then voted to endorse the Parks Master Plan and Skateboard Park Strategy.

This all took two and a half hours.
The remaining 9 items on the agenda took half an hour.

Endorsement meant it moves onto city council.

City Council met last Jan 15, 2018 and I'm happy to say the Strategy was approved and is now the official city document regarding skateboarding in the City of Pickering. My work is featured on page 3 & 11!

Hard to see but Councillors Ashe, Brenner, Pickles, Butt & Cumming voted in favor. Mayor Ryan took the vote (he voted in favor at the executive meeting on Jan 8) Councillor McLean was absent.

Update: Council has made some points of clarification on the approved documents. Here's what it says about the Skateboard Park Strategy.
  1. The location of the new Skateboard Park, proposed to be in front of the main entrance to the Pickering Recreation Complex, is not supported by Council. As such, staff will investigate other locations within the Pickering City Centre for the new community skateboard park.)

There is still a lot of work to do, including finding a new site in the city's core and possibly creating a design to fit that space. Fortunately I have bunch of guys I can count on to support the projects. Thanks to Mike & Spencer for their delegation as well as Connor, Kevin & Carol for showing up and supporting the cause.

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