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Here come the skateboarders

06 Oct 2016

Here come the skateboarders Image

By Sunny Liu

The City of Melbourne has identified Southbank as a first priority skateboarding area in its draft Skate Melbourne Plan.

The Future Melbourne Committee approved its draft plan last month, which introduces a new approach to the provision, location and management of skateboarding.

The draft plan identifies areas for skateboarding and investigates the feasibility and potential locations of a skate park in Melbourne.

Southbank is classed as an “indicative location for larger skate-able spaces” due to the existing and developing projects that aim to further improve the spaces dedicated to skateboarding.

The draft plan shows indicative locations of smaller skate-able spaces in Southbank, some of which include along the Sturt St corridor, Riverside Quay and Queensbridge Square.

The plan also aims to find a potential location for an internationally renowned skate park to accommodate for street-style skaters, park skateboarders, inline skating and BMX.

The current two skate parks within the City of Melbourne, the Riverslide Skate Park in Alexandra Gardens and the Kensington Skate Park, may be replaced in the next five years. According to the plan, neither of the parks caters to street-style skateboarding.

More than 500 responses from the community were collected to help develop the plan and 77 per cent of the respondents were people who participate in skateboarding activity.

Bernard Griffiths, president of the Victorian Skateboard Association, welcomed the proposed Skate Melbourne plan.

“It’s a very well thought out plan with statistical evidence and consultation with the local skateboarding community. It also addresses the concerns of residents by identifying skate-able locations that are far enough from residential areas,” he said.

Mr Griffiths also acknowledged the need for a large-scale skate park in Melbourne.

“Melbourne needs a skate park that’s challenging enough for skateboarders to compete professionally and provide an entertainment area for them to participate recreationally.”

Skateboarding will become an Olympic sport in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the City of Melbourne is putting an increasing focus on the training facilities and public activities spaces for skateboarders.

“Often people don’t realise how big skateboarding is. It’s a sport for people of all ages. Being made into an Olympic sport can display skateboarding to a broader range of audience and open their eyes to the athleticism of this sport,” Mr Griffiths said.

The proposed Skate Melbourne plan will also enhance the management of skate activity, especially around shared skate spaces.

The demolition of Lincoln Square in Carlton signified the conflicts between local residents and skateboarders, with some residents raising safety concerns.

Mr Griffiths said residents’ reaction to skateboarders was an “unfounded fear” because skateboarders were not a threat to the local community.

“People can’t be under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they are skating. Skate parks are community facilities that encourage a positive community connection,” he said.

“The City of Melbourne will be able to make it fitting for the interests of both residents and skateboarders.”

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