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Gnarly: Parks board promises long- and short-term improvements for Vancouver's skateboarders

The city's skateboarders (and friends) are being promised 20 years of improvements.

Vancouver's growing skate community will see new builds, upgrades and other improvements in the short term and over the next 20 years.

A new strategy, approved by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation this week, notes a wide variety of improvements are needed for those into skateboards, scooters, roller blades, BMX bikes and other small-wheeled activities. The strategy sets out short and long-term goals, aimed at improving facilities, adding facilities and improving access for beginners.

"The popularity of skateboarding and small-wheeled sports is surging globally yet locally the City’s existing skate amenities are not meeting the needs of everyone who would like to participate," says a report from the parks staff. "This is particularly true for youth, women, Indigenous youth, and marginalized communities who already face additional obstacles in participating in skateboarding and small-wheeled sports."

The strategy has a series of key actions suggested for the next 20 years, including new builds, upgrades, the development of small skate-able features dubbed "spots and dots," making greenways more skate-friendly, and new partnerships. The new builds and "spots and dots" would see four network hub skate parks, three neighbourhood skate parks, and 10 "spots and dots."

"It is estimated that 23,840 m2 of skate amenity space will be needed to meet the base demands of skateboarding and related activities in Vancouver by 2040. Vancouver currently has approximately 6,665 m2 of existing skate amenity space," states the report.

It also recommends looking for ways to integrate skaters and others into the greenway network so it can become a more common form of sustainable transportation.

Notably, the need for year-round, sheltered skate amenities was considered a top priority, given the wet weather here, and the report suggested a separate, more detailed, and focused study on the issue.

The recommendations don't come with any specific plans, but there are additional ideas.

"Due to the latent demand for skate amenities and to support the growing youth who need skate amenities today, the project process also included the development of 'quick wins,'" states the report.

The four top "quick wins" are upgrades to existing spots that have minimal costs: start upgrades at the China Creek Skate Spot; collaborate on upgrades at the Leeside Skate Park; refurbish ledges at Norquay Park; and provide more support for modular Hillcrest Curling Rink features.

In total, the five-phase strategy is expected to cost the city up to $19.6 million in the coming 20 years.

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