It’s been two months since Tayvon Clarke decided to get the wheel for an indoor skatepark in Halifax rolling. His petition now has 5,500 signatures, but Clarke and other advocates are pushing for more.
In January, Clarke and four other members of the Halifax Skaters Association met with mayor Mike Savage via Zoom, and overall Clarke says the meeting felt productive. “He looked pretty interested in the indoor area and he said he would be working with the team to bring this to a planning stage,” says Clarke.
Stephanie Coffin co-owner of Coffin Skate Shop is also happy about the conversation and loves how much interest the whole idea has received. The roller-skating expert also adds that while there are similarities between roller skating and skateboarding, there’s a difference, and she says it’s important to have a representative from the roller-skating community in these meetings.
Skate sports have seen a wild increase in popularity in the past few years, which intensified due to Covid. Skateboarding is even in the Olympics now, and Clarke said he and his team leveraged on that. “If we don’t have this sport to do all year round, we’re not going to develop any skills farther than that,” he says. “Just like how tennis players have somewhere to go all year round basically and that’s in the Olympics.”
Coffin, who's a member of the roller-skating community, hopes that if this indoor skatepark is built, it’ll be a space where everyone can feel welcomed. “It creates a wonderful opportunity to make sure that we maintain a space that is safe and celebrates all people, all bodies, all genders, all wheels.
For location, Coffin is thinking somewhere central with “a fair amount of space.” She suggested somewhere in Bayer’s Lake or the Bloomfield property. Clarke also thinks Bloomfield would be a good spot, or somewhere near Devonshire Avenue—mentioning to The Coast in 2020 that what's is important is it's accessible.
Clarke says he believes everyone would benefit from this development if it does happen. And may also be open to the idea of teaching people how to skate. “If they want to learn maybe we can have something set up in there for them to rent out something like the oval,” a program that would be worthwhile as skate supplies aren’t cheap.
HRM spokesperson Klara Needler in an email said that the Community Facilities Master Plan 2 addresses the municipality’s approach to recreation facilities, including skate parks.
“While the municipality does not have any current plans for such a facility, we always look forward to hearing how community members can better enjoy recreational services,” the email reads.
Until then, skaters are making do.
Update: On Feb 9 2021 Councillor Waye Mason brought forward the petition to regional council. Bringing forward a petition doesn't trigger any official work, but it means the petition and its aims are officially on HRM staff's radar.