News / Calgary

Calgary skateboarder hoping city can recognize DIY skatepark

City said spot is not sanctioned for a skatepark

The skatepark, nestled in Forest Heights, is an attraction for neigbourhood skateboarders who often come down to test out the rails.

Jennifer Friesen/ for Metro

The skatepark, nestled in Forest Heights, is an attraction for neigbourhood skateboarders who often come down to test out the rails.

Three years – that's how long an underserved neighbourhood in Calgary has enjoyed a skatepark close to home.

But that could all change in an instant.

This spot isn't city-sanctioned, and what was a piece of flat pavement now has permanent skateboarding obstacles on it. They could tear it down. And those who built it, if caught, could face fines and even jail time.

"We know that some skateboarding equipment was installed on a concrete pad in one of the parks, without the city's knowledge or endorsement," said John Merriman. "We don't endorse do-it-yourself skateparks, but we're certainly willing to work with the Calgary Association of Skateboarding Enthusiasts and the community association."

Merriman said they have to go through community engagement to see if keeping the equipment intact is something the community wants.

For "Dan DIYYC" one of the people behind the skate-heaven, there's more at play.

"It's a rough part of town, it's the Forest Lawn area, it had a bad reputation," DIYYC said. "I'd like to have it become a pilot project."

He didn't want to use his real name, but hopes bringing attention to his handiwork will help the city see it doesn't take much to make a space for kids of all ages to practice.

"The skatepark amenities strategy calls for skate-able terrain … a giant concrete slab is ultimately skate-able terrain," DIYYC said. "The city could actually build a slab like that in a low-income area that probably isn't going to get a $200,000 skatepark."

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Once the slabs are built he hoped to engage communities, especially kids, to help design their own skate spots.

"By doing that those youngsters are already engaged in their community, they're giving back to their community, they're going to take pride in their community," DIYYC said.

Merriman said the city hasn't had any 311 calls to complain about the space. And DIYYC said parents often offer to chip in when they see him working on the equipment there.

If the city didn't want to keep the spot, skaters wouldn't be happy. But DIYYC said the thing about skate spots is you build them and count the days before they're discovered and torn down – he'll build another.

Gary Ursu, president of the Forest Heights Community Association, said he was approached about the spot years ago, but assumed it died on the vine. But he hasn't heard any outcry from the community.

"As a community we're always open to stuff for the kids, and that kind of thing," Ursu said.

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