I have an important update about the efforts being made to convince the Wellington City Council that they need to significantly improve Wellington City’s skateboarding facilities and raise awareness and ask for help with the vital next step.
For those who are unaware, a month ago, I posted a message expressing concern about the poor state of Wellington’s skateboard facilities and how the Wellington City Council have quietly worked to push skateboarding out of the city due to negative dispositions of skateboarders still held by some councillors.
Having been informed that nothing would change unless people started making ‘noise’ by writing letters to the 14 main councillors in charge of making decisions, I made a plea for everyone to write to the Councillors and make their voice heard.
For everyone that did write — THANK YOU.
Your letters helped raise awareness and got people talking. It also seems to have created a stir within the Council, as the following Monday, I was sent an email requesting me to attend a meeting later in the week (and asking me to tell people to stop sending emails).
However, none of the Councillors attended this meeting, and it was apparent that the Council would not make it easy for us to have our concerns addressed. The people from the Council we did meet were somewhat supportive and provided us with information about the next step we can take. Ultimately despite being told “they hear us”, we were told that any decisions would come down to the number of submissions made about the Councils ‘10-Year Plan’ currently being reviewed.
The last chance to make submissions is Sunday, May 9.
However, the window to make a submission closes at midnight this Sunday. We urgently need as many people as possible to make submissions asking for investment in skateboarding.
Anyone can make a submission; it doesn’t matter what age you are or whether you skate or not. It should concern you if you live in Wellington, have a connection to the Wellington skate scene, or just want to help.
How to make a submission.
To make a submission, click on this link: https://www.letstalk.wellington.govt.nz/hub-page/long-term-plan
The easiest way is to register and fill out the form online. The form is confusing as it only addresses the ‘The Seven Big Decisions’. However, if you scroll down to: 8. Feedback on these decisions there is room to leave a comment about these ‘Seven Big Decisions’.
A unified voice.
I suggest linking your submission to ‘Cycleways’, ‘Te Ngākau (Civic Square) funding for future work’, and ‘Central Library’ – specifically stating that these are all areas where there is room for skateboarding to be included.
It would be more effective if we all are working towards the same goal. I’ve made a list (you can either copy-and-paste or use to guide your submission — see below) of what I feel are the top five short-term goals and priorities to ‘Make Wellington one of the best cities in the world to be a skateboarder’ (why would you want anything less?). We need lots of help to create real change, and real change will not come about if we do not start speaking up and working together as one community.
Again, we cannot expect that a small handful of individuals from the Wellington skate community will achieve these goals independently. The amount of advocacy work that is needed is hugely taxing, and we need your help, no matter how big or small or where in the country you live. If we do not win this fight, there will be no significant change in the city for another 10 years.
Making a submission is the vital next step if you want to see change.
Keep the pressure on.
Again, thank you to all those people who wrote into the Council a month ago. Please, help keep the pressure on the Council by participating again and making a submission. I suggest copying and pasting your original letter into a submission form to save time.
Lastly, we were informed at our meeting with the Council that making an oral submission is the most effective way to get the Councillors to take action. If you feel up for this, there is a box at the start of the submission form to request ‘to speak to Councillors about your submission at an Oral Hearing or Forum’. This is where you can make a real difference – the more people willing to talk directly to the Councillors, the harder it will be for them to ignore us. Your voice has power, no matter your age, gender, socioeconomic background, or ethnicity.
Thank you for reading.
Ngā mihi nui
Make Wellington one of the best cities in the world to be a skateboarder.
Top Five Short-term Goals and Priorities
- Creating a ‘Long-term/10-year plan’ for the future of skateboarding in Wellington City. This is vital to ensure that mistakes from the past (poor design/construction) are not repeated. Future developments need to be well thought out with proper input and consultation with the broader skate community.
- Creating a central city skate park easily accessible by using public transport (and without the need for a car) by anyone living in all areas of the greater Wellington region. This can be achieved by upgrading Waitangi Park to cater to all levels of ability (beginner, intermediate and advanced) and types of skating (Park and Street courses), meeting current Olympic standards, and holding local, regional, national, and Olympic qualifying events.
- Reinstating a mini ramp back inside Kilbirnie Recreation Centre (at the least) until a better solution is found. There are no facilities or anywhere to go skateboarding during the Winter Months or when it is dark, wet, or windy. This is urgent and a top priority as Wellington is highly vulnerable to all the Elements for extended periods. This could easily be achieved by rearranging the current layout and moving ‘Tinytown’ (for which the ramps were removed) to another arrear inside. Furthermore, if the Council simply agreed to give us the small space required – the skate community could build the ramp themselves (The idea of removing the plastic floor should also be considered).
- A central city ‘Skate Friendly Street Plaza’ that provides a safe area for skaters to meet and skate together (and again which is easily accessible by using public transport by anyone living in all areas of the greater Wellington region. This is a vital ingredient for a healthy skate scene. All the great cities worldwide are well known for their skate communities — for example, Barcelona – MACBA.
- Putting a system in place to ensure opportunities to include ‘skateboarding’ in future infrastructure projects that could benefit the city are not missed. Achieving the goal of making Wellington city one of the best places in the world to be a skateboarder will require integrating small areas all around the city for street skating and ensuring the city is both accessible and inviting to move around in as a form of transport. This goal is achievable and does not have to be hugely costly. A great opportunity is staring us in the face with current future projects due to happen in the next ten years, including:
- A network of bike lanes which the Council currently want to spend $120 million on over the next ten years. These need to stop being classed as ‘Bike lanes’. Many other diverse user groups (skateboarders, long-boarders, roller-skaters, scooter, etc.) can benefit from these lanes by removing all patches of rough ground from designs. There is also no reason why they could not be move inviting, fun, and exciting by including pump-bumps and banks.
- Future redevelopment of public spaces over the next 10-years, including Frank Kitts Park, Te Aro Park, and The Civic Centre (to name a few), could also provide a skate-able area. This could be in the form of a perfect ledge, bench, set of stairs etc.
Photo credit: Joseph Whaanga skateboarding at Midlands park — one of Wellington’s iconic skate spots. A public space that has been made unskateable. Photo by Kevin Francis.