The Peterborough community has seemingly endless niche groups spread all over the city. We know the most prominent ones — the arts community, the vibrant music scene, the sports lovers — but Peterborough is also seeing a rise in a new niche market. With shops such as Thin City popping up in the downtown core and the West 49 skate park on McDonnell packed with kids in the summer, so too are we seeing the skateboarding community grow. And despite the sometimes negative stereotypes that are associated with this group of daredevils, Evan Buckles is looking to dispel some of those unfair assumptions.
The city of Peterborough announced earlier this year that the West 49 skate park on McDonnell is set to receive $120 000 to help with repairs to the damaged park. As a long time skateboarder and instructor through the Bridge Youth Unlimited community center, Buckles has spearheaded many initiatives in the last several years to encourage youth to get up and give skateboarding a try.
Buckles’ newest project is the Peterborough Indoor Skate Park, which is the first of its kind in the city, and operates out of the gym at St. Giles Church on Park street south on Sunday evenings beginning at 6 p.m.
Upon hearing the news of the McDonnell park upgrade, which Buckles’ says is currently in disrepair with large cracks in the cement, inadequate lighting, and large fractures in many of the parks features, he was excited for Peterborough’s one and only skate park to get a much-needed facelift. However, Council had expressed concern that they were unsure about where to allocate the funds in order to make it worth the expenditure. This is when Buckles and his team at the Peterborough Indoor Skate Park took it upon themselves to form the Peterborough Skateboarding Committee, which would act as a board of knowledgeable skateboarders in town and serve as an intermediary between City Council and the skateboarding community to better serve the needs of those who stand to benefit from these upgrades.
When asked about how the proposal to Council went, Buckles’ seemed optimistic about the trip to City Hall.
“Our goal was to give the city someone to talk to about skateboarding because at the last council meeting, Council said that they know there is a growing number of people skateboarding, but they don’t know who to talk to. So we put together the Committee as a point of contact for them.”
Although the vote to approve the spending for the park will not come until 2019, meaning it is possible that the members of Council could change after the election in October, Buckles says that the Council was very receptive to his propositions and vision for what he and the Peterborough Skateboarding Committee have in mind for the future of skateboarding in Peterborough. After grilling Buckles with questions ranging from volume of traffic at the park and necessity of proposed repairs, the Council gave the group more opportunity to network with other community groups in the city as a drop-in point.
Although it is only preliminary stages at this point for much of these discussions, the Peterborough Skateboarding Committee has hit the ground at full speed. Arthur met with Buckles only two hours after presenting to Council and in that short time, Buckles had personally received a number of phone calls from individuals and organizations that had seen his presentation at City Hall and were looking to assist him and the Committee in securing sponsors and other forms of funding to bolster this worthy cause.