News / Calgary

Calgary's slackline poles have community wanting more

Calgary slackliners want to start a second phase of the project, but the city says they need to wait a year to see how the first part of the project fairs

Michael Sparks and his son are avid slackliners - and would be happy to test out poles as part of a city pilot program to provide an alternative to using trees, but said it's not an ideal solution. Part of the fun is being able to is to perform the activity anywhere.

AARON CHATHA / METRO

Michael Sparks and his son are avid slackliners - and would be happy to test out poles as part of a city pilot program to provide an alternative to using trees, but said it's not an ideal solution. Part of the fun is being able to is to perform the activity anywhere.

It's been more than a month since the city installed three green metal posts in a northeast park and the  slacklining community is getting on well with the freshly cemented and legal spots to sling their lines. 

But Michael Sparks with the local chapter of the Canadian Slackline Association said they're looking for the city to start a phase two project and are worried the initial costs of the first poles may deter the city from pursuing more slackline infrastructure. 

"My main concern is that if the city won't provide posts, but won't allow tree usage, we're out in the cold with no options, again," said Sparks.

He's been working with Coun. Shane Keating to find a happy medium between cost and more accessible sites for slackliners to use.

"I've said over and over the city should have every aspect possible for recreation…from the opera to the race car drivers, we should have it all," said Coun. Shane Keating. "A city of this size should." 

John Merriman, parks community strategist with the City of Calgary said they aren't jumping into another project before they see their first set of installed infrastructure through a year-long pilot to closely watch usage and how the engineered slackline supports hold up structurally. 

"The slackliners have started to use it, which is good," said Merriman. "This first site is a pilot site, we want to see how the posts are going to hold up to the weather…how the posts hold up to the stresses the slacklines have on them." 

He added during that time they are seeing how much the poles are used. 

The three poles rang in at just over $10,000, which Merriman said was neither expensive or inexpensive infrastructure investment, depending on the frequency of use. 

"It's not an insignificant amount," he said. If the posts prove viable they will explore other sites, but would then have to see if the city has funding available to move forward. 

Sparks said he's working to register the Canadian Slackline Association's Alberta chapter as a not-for profit, so they may be able to start fundraising and could eventually partner with the city on projects to covers some costs.  

Keating said they have their site up and running now, and it's just a matter of time for the city to investigate further before moving forward with more projects.

"There has been no intent not to move forward, it's just because it's a new facility within the city they have to make sure there's the usage there," said Keating. "They really wanted us just to change the bylaw and open it up so they could do slacklining on any trees…there wasn't a strong enough presence to date…the city is certainly willing to work with them and proceed in the future."

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