Sports

Halifax man hoping to open indoor skate park by next winter

Organizer Craig McNally receiving enthusiasm and support from volunteers

Sam Greenberg greets a friend as Tristan Connellan looks on. They skate at the Halifax Commons every day.
Sam Greenberg greets a friend as Tristan Connellan looks on. They skate at the Halifax Commons every day.   Emma Meldrum

 

For six years, Craig McNally has been planning to open an indoor skate park in Halifax. Now, he’s putting his plan into action.

McNally is starting by getting the word out. He’s founded a company called Scotia Skate World and is now looking for volunteers, sponsors and collaborators. He’s also taking jobs to help him raise money for startup costs.

“I’ve got some Kijiji ads out and I’m going nuts with word of mouth and telling everyone I know that’s a skater,” McNally said in a phone interview. “I’m going to be talking to a lot of businesses.”

“It’s amazing the feedback I’m getting. Everybody I tell, their eyes light up. They’re like, how can I help? Right now we need all the help we can get,” he said.

McNally also posted on Reddit’s Halifax page, where the response was overwhelmingly positive.

“I’m all for having spaces for kids to hang out and be active. Especially indoor places for our ridiculously long and sad winters,” said user ‘kinkakinka.’

Outdoor skate park is limited by weather

HRM currently has ten outdoor skate parks. But boarders are left without a place to skate in the winter. Weather in the summer can also limit their practice time.

“You know how Halifax is with its weather,” said Tristan Connellan. He skateboards at the Halifax Commons every day. “Especially for six months when you can’t skate and you lose a lot of your skill. Then when the summer starts up again, it’s not as good.”

“In the summer, it’s either wind or it’s heat,” Connellan added. “If it’s too hot, you can’t skate, you get tired too quickly. If it’s too windy, the wind just knocks your board away.”

McNally agrees.

“As soon as anything goes wrong with the weather, skateboarding is shut down,” he said.

An accessible place to skate

McNally’s indoor skate park project isn’t just about protecting skaters from the weather. He wants to create a space where everyone can practice and learn.

“I’d like to make this as accessible as possible. All the skate parks here are free,” McNally said. “I’d like to get as close to that as I can.”

He also wants beginners to feel welcome.

“We want to be doing skate lessons and bring new skaters into the sport,” he said. Right now the parks are designed for fun and they aren’t efficiently designed so people of different skill levels can be going at the same time.”

Sam Greenberg skates at the Halifax Commons. He'd like to be able to skate inside during the winter
Sam Greenberg skates at the Halifax Commons. He’d like to be able to skate inside during the winter   Emma Meldrum

Dylan Landry uses the skate park at the Halifax Commons on a daily basis. He thinks that accessibility is important too.

“If you look at places like Moncton… it’s a recreational facility for younger children and then they space out skate times, scooter times, BMX times so everyone’s included and there’s no discrimination,” Landry said.

The skateboarder said he’d be willing to pay and follow extra rules to enter an indoor park.

“I think everyone would be super understanding if you had to wear a helmet. Hell, I’d wear knee pads, elbow pads if there’s a little place to skate during the winter where it isn’t freezing cold,” Landry said.

Planning and gathering support

Skateboarders are on board. But it remains to be seen if any levels of government will participate.

“I figure as this thing grows it’s going to be something [the city] wants to get behind as well, our city is really good for supporting the community. I’d be surprised if they didn’t want to get involved,” McNally said. “There’s government funding. I’m not relying on that.”

T-shirts printed with the Scotia Skate World logo will soon be available to purchase. McNally also plans on holding skateboarding competitions at the outdoor skate parks to fundraise for the indoor park. He hopes to buy rather than rent, and expects a down payment to cost between $100,000 and $150,000.

“By next winter, we plan to not have to worry about the weather anymore because we can go and skate in our indoor park,” McNally said.

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