City of Calgary decides to keep Shaw Millennium Park open 24/7
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Calgary has decided to keep Shaw Millennium Park open all day and night after mulling a plan to limit hours at the 24-hour skate park following a surge in reported crime last summer.
In August 2014, police with the District 1 team told Metro a lack of restrictions on the park led to problems for officers in the area. There were reports of drugs, alcohol and serious assaults on the property.
After pooling police input, an online survey, and public engagement, Todd Reichardt, manager of parks centre division, said the decision was made to keep Millennium Park open 24/7, and to keep the green space around the skaters' heaven on regular 5 a.m.-to-11 p.m. hours.
“There’s only a handful of people that are actually using it,” Reichardt said. “People like the idea of being able to use it at any time.”
Much of the reported crime happened in the area around Shaw Millennium Park, Reichardt added, not directly in it.
Graham McGinn works at Royal Board Shop, he said he uses the park in the morning before work – but said some people's schedules may take them outside regular park hours.
"It's great that they're keeping it open," McGinn said.
Zev Klymochko co-chair with the Calgary Association of Skateboarding Enthusiasts said they are happy with the city's decision. He said that although police are wary of the skatepark, incidents are few and far between.
"I don't think there is much crime," Klymochko said. "We worked closely with the city parks department on this and it's what we've been hoping would happen."
Reichardt added once the weather improves there will be lockable gates put up in the “less visible” problem areas – but nothing to interfere with the skateable surfaces.
“We’re going to put in a number of these wrought-iron gates and lock them up at night, so people can’t sneak into corners and hide,” Reichardt said. “Effectively the only place you will be able to be standing will be skateboarding or on the top of the platform.”
The park also has a number of cameras monitoring the area, footage which Reichardt said can aid police in investigations.
He added although the park is a free-for-all there’s still social responsibility to look out for trouble. Any skaters who see suspicious behaviour are encouraged both by the city and police to report incidents.