Group fights for more input into skate park designs

Skateboarding WA is trying to push local government to improve the consultation process for the development of skate parks in WA.

Chief executive officer Ben Bowring said his group worked with local governments to ensure new skate parks would help to encourage the growth of the sport.

“We help review designs, give advice on what is proven to work, what is current, has been current for a long time and will stay current for a long time into the future,” he said.

Mr Bowring said the community consultation process was flawed because input from inexperienced people was given equal weight to that of experienced skateboarders.

“Councils seem to place higher importance on making sure everyone is included in their outdated community consultation process, than the importance of the end product being a highly functional sporting facility,” he said.

SWA lobbied for the construction of the popular Esplanade Youth Plaza skate park in Fremantle, and was involved in the design process.

Although the park, which was completed in 2014, was initially met with some community concern, Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said residents had come to embrace it.

“During the design and construction phase, there was some concern in the community about the location and the potential for anti-social behaviour, but even the staunchest critics now concede that the plaza has been a great addition to the Fremantle city centre,” Dr Pettitt said.

“The local community has shown great pride and ownership of this facility, which I believe has contributed to its tremendous success and has quickly stamped it as one of Fremantle’s best-loved attractions.”

Skateboarding WA was also involved in the design of the Busselton skate park, which 25-year-old Perth skater Steve Jeffries said was one of the best in the state.

“It’s probably the best park I’ve ever skated, to be honest,” he said. (It’s) definitely one of the raddest ever built in WA.”

He said the success of the park lay in its creative design, which incorporated unusual and challenging objects resembling the architecture of city streets.

“It’s way more interesting and fun than your average park because they’ve put way more thought into the design,” he said.

“It’s got some of the more unusual stuff that you might find on the street, and the reason a lot of skaters prefer street skating over parks is because it’s a more challenging and creative approach to skating.”

Busselton Mayor Grant Henley praised Skateboarding WA for its work in the community, which includes the provision of free skating clinics.

“They’ve been really good at engaging the local youths and getting them interested in skateboarding as a sport,” he said.

“I think it shows the youth in our community that their involvement and their reaction in our community is important.”

Mr Bowring said skateboarding is one of the only activities where you see a diverse range of ages participating alongside one another and this helps develop social development