Canberra Skateboarding Association Vice President Brenden Wood is pushing for new parks and better maintenance of current facilities as the sport continues to grow in the nation’s capital.
Mr Wood said Canberra had always been known for its vibrant skating community but the facilities were not keeping pace.
A skating enthusiast for more than 20 years, Mr Wood said Canberra had not had any new skateparks built in the past 10 years, despite constant expansion and new suburbs coming online.
“Canberra has a very passionate and motivated skateboarding scene, with lots of events which have been going on since I was a kid,” he said.
“Some of our older skate parks, like Erindale Brick Banks, Kambah U-Pipe and Charnwood Bowl, are iconic in the international skateboarding media.
“We used to have this reputation of getting new skateparks pretty regularly. When new suburbs were made they had smaller skate facilities to fill the gaps between the bigger parks, but then something just shifted and we stopped getting those skateparks.”
To make matters worse, Mr Wood said maintenance of what infrastructure there was has been hit and miss at best and in some cases completely ignored.
“Tuggeranong skatepark’s lights have not worked for almost a year now,” he said.
“We have to kick up a really big fuss about something that’s causing people to fall and get hurt, then we’ll have a contractor sent who’s unqualified to fix it and it all crumbles out.”
Mr Wood said many of Canberra’s skateparks were around 20 years old and some had degraded significantly and were near unusable.
The CSA has made numerous attempts over the past few years to get new skateparks or skate-friendly zones implemented in newer suburbs with limited success.
“We’ve got a bunch of new suburbs out there but the people living in them all need to go to 20-year-old skateparks that barely fit the needs of the community anymore,” Mr Wood said.
“There are people in new parts of Canberra who want to learn how to skate but have no local skatepark and can’t travel out to where there is one.”
The CSA has been advocating for a government-backed skate strategy that would outline best practices for maintaining skateparks, and outline how to create skate-friendly spaces around Canberra.
“When we participate in community consultations, our suggestions for skate-friendly spaces or skateparks are often met with enthusiasm,” Mr Wood said.
“A number of local politicians are enthusiastic about it too. Unfortunately, skate elements are still missing from new recreation spaces.”
Greens MLA for Murrumbidgee Emma Davidson has supported the work of the CSA
“My colleague, ACT Greens spokesperson for Sports and Recreation Johnathan Davis, introduced a motion in April 2021 for a Facilities Management Plan to improve long-term planning for our community facilities so that they can be maintained and upgraded over time to be more responsive to Canberra’s sporting needs and impacts from climate change,” Ms Davidson said.
“This includes identifying opportunities to incorporate skate and bike features into developments and greenfield neighbourhoods to keep the community active, healthy and better connected with their local region.
“The Canberra Skateboarding Association has been doing fantastic work to help shape how we can maintain and upgrade Canberra’s skate spaces such as Gungahlin skatepark and Tuggeranong foreshore, but also ensuring that local neighbourhood skateparks and streetscaping are included in our future planning designs.”
The CSA is encouraging people to support the push for better skatepark facilities by messaging their local MLA or requesting new skateboarding infrastructure through ACT YourSay surveys.