Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada without an indoor skatepark and Tayvon Clarke is trying to change that.
Clarke created a petition last week with a goal of 5,000 signatures, and by Friday afternoon, he was almost there.
“I’m really just trying to bring the community together so we can make this dream come true,” he said in an interview.
Clarke has been skating for 10 years and started to consider an indoor park in the last five years. He said he wants to show the city that the skateboard and scooter community is big enough to warrant an indoor park.
Since the beginning of the pandemic the skate community has been growing, said Clarke. It’s a way for people to stay active and is great for the youth, he added.
“One day I was looking out my window, I wanted to skate and it was raining outside, with no other options to go I just thought to myself ‘maybe I should make the petition, maybe this might blow up and the city might see it.’” And just a few hours later it took off.
On average, Halifax has approximately 143 days of rain and 25 days of snow, according to online weather atlas weather-ca.com. On wet days skaters go to underground parking garages and will usually be kicked out by security, said Clarke.
“We have so many hockey rinks, soccer fields, and tennis courts. They’re doing so much for everything else but they’re not looking at skateboarding or scootering or anything else,” Clarke said. He said he’s sent emails to the city with no response.
Clarke isn’t the only one who has tried to get Halifax an indoor park. In 2016 Craig McNally had a real estate deal fall through at the last minute. McNally and his team had raised money to buy the old Ambassatours bus company warehouse on Almon Street for an indoor park but the building ended up getting demolished. “It brought us a little bit back to square one,” he said.
McNally said that each person who’s tried to make a park happen has run into a certain set of problems. Initially, it was pushback from the city, said McNally. The city wants to see a full business plan, professional drawings, and that people are serious about this, said McNally.
“If there’s not a great level of collaboration then an individual will get stuck and eventually when they’re stuck there, they need to take care of their own lives. It’s hard to put food on the table when you’re essentially trying to start a non-profit.”
McNally has his own carpentry company and said he eventually wants to get a warehouse for his business. If he decides that’s the right move, McNally said he will get something bigger and open up a skatepark in a section of it.
“We’re all skaters in our company and we’re willing to get involved. So, when the time comes and a park is coming to Halifax, which I’m sure it will, our team is ready to go and just build a bunch of stuff.”
McNally said his team has everything anyone would ever need to build a park. “Really we just need an individual to find a location, buy some material and have a good plan,” said McNally.
Coun. Shawn Cleary said the proposal is worthy of consideration from council but would take several years to make it happen
“I know that having an indoor skatepark would be very beneficial for skaters to have a year-round facility because it’s something that we don’t have currently,” Cleary said in an interview.
“It comes down to priority and money,” the councillor said, but the petition is the start of a process to get a park and shows council that there is community support.
“If the organizers have the ability to raise funds it certainly makes it a faster, more realistic possibility,” said Cleary.
“I still skate, although I don’t do tricks anymore. I don’t think my 49-year-old bones could take the fall, but it is something that has a lot of interest in the community and it’s worthwhile to consider.”
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Student journalist from Ottawa. Interested in videography, creative nonfiction and politics.