The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation will invest up to $19.6 million to improve the city's skateboarding infrastructure over the next two decades.
CitySkate, a strategy for improving skateboard amenities approved during the park board's Monday meeting, includes building seven new skate parks around the city, constructing 10 skate 'spots' in parks, and upgrading existing facilities.
Vancouver's skateboarding infrastructure is in short supply and in need of upgrades, according to Jeff Cole, a longtime skateboarder and president of the Vancouver Skateboard Coalition.
"They are in desperate need of repair, most of them are falling apart ... the spaces don't meet the demand of the user group," he said.
According to the CitySkate report, the majority of Vancouver's skateboarding amenities were built in the early 2000s and no new amenities have been built since 2011.
Since skate parks in Vancouver also service small-wheeled users — including those using scooters, roller skates and BMX bikes — these spaces can get crowded, Cole said, adding that the skateboarding community has made the most of existing amenities and has been welcoming of everyone.
One of the gaps the plan also aims to address is providing covered spaces for skateboarders during inclement weather.
"Finding places to skateboard on a rainy day are non-existent," said Cole. The lack forces skateboarders to other areas like underground parkades, which can be unsafe, he said.
Cole said having access to skateboarding in all weather is essential because for many people, the sport provides an outlet for stress, surrounds them with community, and supports their mental well-being.
"So many of us rely on this thing to provide us happiness."
Emily Dunlop, senior planner with the park board, said the demand for skateboarding amenities has tremendously grown in the past decade, and creating skate-friendly greenways is another focus.
This means collaborating with the city to convert existing greenways into skateable routes so people can skateboard as a means of transportation.
Dunlop said they hope to focus efforts on greenways that connect to existing skateboard infrastructure, transit stations, and other city amenities.
She said over 70 per cent of skateboarders that responded to a park board survey said they would use their skateboard to travel distances up to three kilometres, and 40 per cent said they would travel farther than that.
The strategy will be implemented over five phases and is expected to be completed in 2042, at a cost of about $13.6 to $19.6 million.