Alternatives to Red Deer youth throwing their discarded skateboard and bike parts into a large tree will be explored between the City of Red Deer and a nonprofit skateboard organization, says Parks Superintendent Trevor Poth.
Poth said on Friday his staff hopes to work with Salvation Sk8 Ministries and Josh Knelson, a longtime skateboarder, about a different option to breaking a city bylaw.
“We don’t allow anybody to hang or nail or attach anything to a tree because we’re really concerned about tree health,” said Poth. “We really want to work with the group to find out the best solution, whether it’s some kind of monument or something else.”
On Thursday, users of the skateboard park were dismayed to find out that more than 15 items they tossed into a nearby tree were taken down. They had earlier learned that Mayor Morris Flewwelling liked the idea of their self-described “summer Christmas tree.” A similar tree exists at a skateboard park in Port Coquitlam, B.C. Poth said it was unfortunate the skateboarders didn’t let anyone at the city know of their intentions.
“We had a crew of staff doing maintenance at the skate park and they saw sneakers hung from trees and broken skateboards,” said Poth. The crew’s supervisor told them to clean it up.
“At the time, we thought it was in a way (that someone was) vandalizing the park,” he said.
Poth said the items were returned.
The parks department has worked with Salvation Sk8 on ideas for skateboard park expansion. Last year, the park near Red Deer Arena received some $20,000 worth of repairs and enhancements.
Future plans are to expand the skateboard park at its current site or at a new location.
Knelson, one of the originators of the summer Christmas tree idea, said he didn’t think it would have been a problem to put stuff into the tree, so city authorization wasn’t sought.
He said he was glad the city was trying to find a solution.
Joel Smith of Salvation Sk8 agreed.
“The (city doesn’t) just want to take it away,” Smith said. “They’re interested in replacing it with something.”