I sent a condensed version of the following letter to the editor of the Lethbridge Herald. They published it today, but did not include it on their website.
I have been following for the last two years with interest the process the Lethbridge Skateboard Association has had to endure in order to get a new skatepark. The organization, of which I am not a member, had seen at the beginning difficulties and frustration trying to work with the city. After city administration finally realized the feasibility, practicality, and necessity of a new skatepark in the city, the process became more collaborative.
Public perception, unsurprisingly, is still based on ignorance and opposition to the skatepark remains high. One need only read through the submissions to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board regarding the development permit to see how uninformed and ignorant citizens of the city are regarding the skatepark specifically and skateboarders generally.
Racism and poor grammar aside, the letters are filled with inaccuracies, stereotypes, and assumptions.
First of all, the closest author lives 700 metres away from the park. This is roughly the equivalent of 7 football field lengths. As a resident of London Road, I live approximately 700 metres from Park Place, and most people would think it unreasonable for me to complain about how Park Place affects me when it is 6 blocks away from my house.
Second, to imply that skateboarders are vandals and criminals is completely unfair and grossly irresponsible. The current president of the Lethbridge Skateboard Association is a respected structural engineer, a churchgoer, a husband, and the father of a young family. The members of the Lethbridge Skateboard Association were forced to raise two-thirds of the funding required to build the skatepark. These adults and young people have worked hard holding bottle drives, art auctions, and partnering with local businesses to host fundraising events. Through their own determination, hard work, and cooperation, they have managed to raise over $250,000 on their own. This is not what criminals do.
Third, the skatepark will not debauch the beauty of Henderson Park. The existing trees at the proposed location will remain, and while some of the grass will disappear, developer will plant greenery to make up for it. In addition, those opposing the skatepark because they assume it will be ugly have obviously never seen any prominent, new skateparks and lack an understanding of architecture and built environment.
Fourth, arguing about lack of parking is moot. Skateboards are a mode of transportation; skateboarders don’t need to park their skateboards when they arrive. Same goes for the argument that it will affect traffic congestion. In addition, the proposed location, despite argument from one of the letters, is serviced well by transit, with the 21, 23, and 24 routes stopping no more than a block away, and the 20 is only 2 blocks away.
These letters are from people who live too far away from the proposed location to be affected by a skatepark and who exhibit a complete lack of respect for the youth in this city. For shame.