SKATEBOARD SUNDAY preliminary report: Turner skatepark (Hamilton), Chinguacousy skatepark (Brampton) and Iceland skatepark (Mississauga)
September 7th, 2009
Yesterday as part of a MISSISSAUGAWATCH Skateboard Sunday survey, I visited three major “flagship” municipal skateboard facilities, Turner in Hamilton, Chinguacousy in Brampton, and Iceland, Mississauga. The Sunday before (August 30, 2009) we wrapped up our summer’s observation of Maui’s three skateboard parks.
We’ve already reported on the Maui skateboard scene in previous Blogs and especially in “MISSISSAUGAWATCH reports on three Maui Skateboard parks (StoneWave-Paia, Kalama-Kihei and Keopuolani-Kahalui)”.
Once back in Mississauga, it became clear that it would be absurd to now compare the Maui Three with the skateparks we’d been observing and reporting on back in May and June. For example, while observing Beasley Park in City of Hamilton, we were not aware that the new $500,000 Turner Skatepark had opened. (Plus back in May/June I preferred neighbourhood skate plazas to observing a larger City-wide facility.)
No more. The Maui Three forced me to turn my attention to local Flagship Parks.
Yesterday, as part of back-to-back Skateboard Sundays, I first visited Turner Skatepark in Hamilton. (I’d been tipped to the existence of this new facility by a commenter here.)
I ran a quick check of City of Hamilton Council’s decisions as to how Turner Skatepark got located where it did, and surfed a tour of what Google Maps suggested was an affluent surrounding neighbourhood (it was).
By far the most surprising thing about Turner Skatepark came from a conversation with one of several parents sitting around watching their kids skateboarding. This mother enthused about how the skatepark was right next to the police station (and I mean right-next-right-next).
I responded that such close presence of police must make parents feel comfortable letting their kids skate there.
Her response was, “Oh no, I’d never leave him here by himself!”
That made Turner Skatepark the most fascinating park in our 6-facility study.
After Turner, I traced out the Upper James route that a kid living around Beasley Skatepark would have to take to reach the flagship Turner. There were only three kids skateboarding that day at Beasley and only one had an actual skateboard. A pervert waxed poetic into my video camera about the number and quality of his testicles while three other suspicious characters were sitting on a park bench watching me videotape graffiti.
Now with two months of Maui skatepark observation behind me, I see Beasley Skatepark for what it is. One ramp. One small depression for a “bowl” and some concrete to smear a board across —that’s Beasley.
Two small girls were on swings unsupervised and I was reminded of the Turner Park mother’s comment, “Oh no, I’d never leave him here by himself!”… Hamilton: A Tale of Two Cities.
I then set off for Chinguacousy Park, City of Brampton. I heard more F-words in my observation time there than at all Maui skateboard parks the months of July and August combined, plus Turner that morning. Not a good start…
However, Chinguacousy surprised me the most of the three local skateparks I visited yesterday. And surprised me in a good way.
Chinguacousy reminded me of Kahalui’s Keopuolani Skatepark. More about all this in later Blog entries.
It was getting deep into afternoon and I reluctantly headed for Iceland in Mississauga. I say “reluctantly” because 1: I have the City of Mississauga Corporate Security database printout of all the bans and arrests issued at that City Property, plus 2: I’d visited the skatepark there on several other occasions.
On this visit, there were perhaps 20 boys, with about an even split of bikes and boarders. Being just fresh from Chinguacousy, I found Iceland the bore. I videotaped a bit, narrating into the camera and then once I was done, a parent supervising his two kids talked me up.
“You mentioned a skatepark in Brampton?”
“Yeah, Chinguacousy. I just came from there.”
I mentioned Chinguacousy’s attributes (like that it was in a park and not beside the 403) and then provided directions. He gathered his two kids and B-lined it for B-Town.
I saw Chinguacousy as a cool mix between Maui’s Keopuolani and Kalama skateboard parks.
Even a Chinguacousy conversation between a kid and a BMXer reminded me of the New York Times article “The End of Falling” in memory of Skateboard pioneer, Andy Kessler.
The BMXer rested his bike on a ramp ledge.
The kid asked, “How did you get so good?”
“I fall down a lot,” and he sped away.
Having observed all six skateparks now, I’m confident in rating them as if I were a Middle School kid committed to skateboarding. But I recognize that what this almost-60 year old white female might look for isn’t the same thing as a real skateboarder (or for that matter a male!).
For me, the Skatepark Rankings were based on architecture, respect and supervision. Did the parks have the kind of ramps and bowls to attract the serious big-boy skaters? Was there a culture of respect among the park users? If two parks’ architecture and respect rated equal then the ranking came down to a skatepark’s supervision.
I hope you’ll agree that a skatepark where kids are respectful of others and is unsupervised, is infinitely preferable to a supervised park. Unsupervised means it’s the kids’ skatepark where they are free to be respectful, inclusive and solve inevitable conflicts —on their own.
The Mississauga Muse