Something Else: A Safer Skatepark In Ladner
Approaching the rim that looks down into Ladner Skatepark’s steep bowl isn’t overly intimidating. But then again, I’m standing in shoes and not on rolling wheels. My perspective would likely change if somebody handed me a skateboard and told me to jump in.
It’s a view shared by 22-year-old Ladner resident Hayden Stebeck, who works at the nearby Delta Gymnastics.
“Unless you’re by yourself and you could walk into the bowl and skate around in the flat part on the bottom, if you’re brand new to skateboarding you’re going to hurt yourself, guaranteed,” he says.
Although bumps and bruises are part of learning to skate, the Ladner skatepark is not the safest place to learn. In terms of bowls it might not be too challenging, but in terms of difficulty Hayden says it’s somewhat like a beginner skier starting on a mountain with only black diamond routes and no bunny hills.
Hayden started learning to skate two years ago in Tsawwassen’s “street style” skatepark where skaters can perform flat ground tricks and what Hayden calls “manualing.” It’s relatively forgiving to newcomers due to the terrain.
Unfortunately, it’s not convenient for many Ladner teens or young adults to make their way south.
“If I’m a 13-year-old in Ladner and I just got off school and it’s nice out one day in the winter and I want to go skateboard a streetpark when I have between about 2 p.m. To 3:30 p.m. To get to Tsawwassen and skateboard before it’s too dark and too cold.”
Not that Ladner’s bowl doesn’t receive traffic. On a sunny day Ladner’s skate bowl can have a few skaters, a BMX biker and some kids on scooters. Suddenly you’re waiting at least five minutes for your turn, explains Hayden.
The bowl is actually the style which made the activity popular in extreme sports with Tony Hawk and the Bones Brigade in Santa Monica, California.
It’s anything but practical, however.
“It’s very difficult to have a good group of people skateboarding at the same time in one small bowl,” says Hayden.
Hayden says he’s concerned some kids will try the Ladner bowl, get hurt, and never want to try skateboarding again because they’re discouraged.
To change all that, Hayden presented his vision of building a more accessible Ladner skatepark to Delta’s Parks, Recreation & Culture Commission, who were receptive to his idea.
“Hayden did an excellent job of providing perspective that the site is used by those on skateboards, but also those on bicycles, for example,” says Ken Kentz, Delta’s director of Parks, Recreation & Culture. “Our role as Delta staff has been primarily to coach Hayden on the steps he needs to undertake in order to progress the concept to another, more detailed proposal to Commission.”
Those steps include consideration of underground utilities on the current site, strategies and sources of funding under a community cost-sharing model (Delta would match 50% of the project funding), detailed design considerations, and the support of neighbouring community organizations like Delta Gymnastics and Delta Hospice Society.
“Hayden has been doing a great job of thinking through the project and progressing it when he has the time and opportunity, and our staff here are really pleased to be working with him,” says Ken. “He seems to be a great role model for others in the community.”
To learn more visit ladnerskatepark.com.