Ontario Skateparks

by Scott Pommier

It’s funny how often categories fail to encapsulate what they attempt to define. For example, some people go to school for years and they don’t learn a bloody thing. They stare bleary-eyed at a dusty chalkboard expecting knowledge to seep into their heads via osmosis (which reminds me of a particularly amusing poster featuring Garfield with books strapped to his arms, legs and torso, but I digress). Concentrating on their teachers’ screechy scrawls is as difficult for them as solving a Rubic’s Cube in the dark. Instead they reserve their ability to focus for lunchtime and after-class sessions. Here they tackle more practical physics problems, such as how to properly flick a switch hardflip, or determining the correct angle of approach for a nollie noseslide. The capital of Nebraska, however, might forever remain something that only Jeopardy contestants need ever know.

Similarly, cold, hard concrete can be the best tutor, particularly when it comes to some of the more important of life’s lessons such as “he who hesitates loses” and “patience is a virtue.” I don’t think there’s any mystery whether or not these lessons are more important than “State Capitals for 200, Alex.” So what does it all mean? Feel free to test your own reading comprehension. Select from the following:

a.) Schoolteachers are dumber than concrete.b.) The switch hardflip was invented in the capital of Nebraska.c.) The nollie noseslide is harder than solving aRubic’s Cube.d.) Jeopardy is best left to non-skateboarders.e.) Learning is a constant process, there are lessonsto be learned everywhere you look.

I’ll trust that you don’t need to look at the end of the article for the correct answer printed upside-down in a tiny, barely legible font. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one indeed, but the trivia that we accumulate over a lifetime is unimportant when compared with the insight we gain about ourselves.

Many skateboarders have sought refuge at their local skateparks. The skatepark can be a very comforting place. We all know that young people like to mill about aimlessly; no one gives this odd behavior a second though at a skatepark, and no mall security guards shoe loiterers away (except in the case of a Vans park).

Of course some of the benefits of having a good skatepark are all too obvious. Skateparks often present a variety of terrain that can help young skateboarders hone their skills in many disciplines. While the “park skater” stigma still exists to some extent, it could be argued that the park skater is far more well-rounded than the street skater in many regards. Also, with competition becoming increasingly more important in professional skateboarding, having facilities with transitions and park setups of all kinds can be quite advantageous to those who have a skateboarding career in mind.

Skateparks serve as meeting places, as trick-learning seminars, and as underground “gray” markets where cheap product can sometimes be purchased. If you come often enough, everyone will know your name, just like on Cheers. Well, minus the witty repartee from the likes of Kelsey Grammer, Ted Danson, and Rhea Pearlman, I guess.

The following is a non-comprehensive list of skateboard parks in Southern Ontario (where Canada borders the Great Lakes) at which you can fritter away your precious youth. So go forth, gossip, light firecrackers, trade product, and coin nicknames. If you’ve got some spare time, see if you can’t get some skateboarding in there, too.

Beasely Park¿concrete

When I was younger I thought the Beasely park was amazing. I had so much energy as a tyke that I didn’t much mind pushing uphill to launch out of the bowl. With the construction of the Oakville park, Beaz really doesn’t see the sessions it once did¿in its heyday, it was the hangout in Hamilton. Much like The Max in television’s Saved By The Bell, it was the social epicenter of the local skateboard community. They still host a big ctest there every year, and people come from miles around to put lines together on the slanted course, or to see who can blast highest out of the bowl. There’s definitely some fun to be had there yet, but it’s not the kind of place you’d go to film your whole video part, although I believe some have.The Beasley Bowl is in the Beasley Community Center at 27 Eligin Road in Hamilton. The park’s number is (905) 546-4042. Skating is gratis.

Burlington Park¿concrete

The Burlington park is a recent attempt to satisfy Halton-area skateboarders. It’s an unfortunate waste of tax dollars, the result of keeping skateboarders out of the consultation process. It leads one to wonder what the designers were thinking. Is there really a tremendous problem with area youth skateboarding on four-stair rails that drive right into the ground? Why not build us a granite ledge, like the ones at the spots we get kicked out of all the time? No, five-foot-high vert wall it is, thanks.Burlington Skatepark, located in Maple Park, beside Mapleview Mall. Skating costs nothing.

Shred Central¿indoor, wood

If you prefer your parks to be insulated against the elements (which you very well might if you live in Canada during the winter months) and located in the core of the city, then stop by Shred Central. In the heart of Toronto, Shred is located conveniently close to an excellent street spot (that you’re very likely to get kicked out of). Keeping a park running in such a high-rent, high-property-tax area is highly commendable. Shred Central’s owners, Jimbo (whom you may know from the infamous band Dayglow Abortions) and Jamer (whom you may know for being just plain infamous), hold frequent fundraising parties at the park.

This, boozecan/skatepark is not large, but what it lacks in volume it makes up for with charm. The limited space has been used quite efficiently and frequent changes are made to keep things exciting. It’s immediately apparent that things are a little different at Shred. Every time you enter the park you’re transported back to the glory days of skateboarding. Sure, there are kids with their hats on sideways and one pantleg rolled up, working on switch crooked grinds, but there is something in the air that says 1980s. It’s one of those rare spots where one feels a sense of community in an otherwise uncaring world. The park has quickly become a much-loved fixture in the city, a place where skaters from different generations meet and skateboard together.Shred is located at 19 St. Nicholas Street, downtown Toronto. They’re open from noon ’til ten every day; no pads required, but it costs ten bucks Canadian to skate. Call them: (416) 923-9842.

Blue Tile Lounge¿indoor, wood

If you’re the type who says “Jeers to tight transitions” and “Cheers to spacious indoor parks with ledges and wedges,” then Aurora’s Blue Tile Lounge is the place for you. The Blue Tile Lounge is about an hour north of the city and is accessible by public transportation via a GO bus. Be warned, the park’s title is a bit of a misnomer, as there are no tiles to be found save for those on the bathroom walls. But feel free to lounge a bit (just as long as you have already paid to skate) and watch a video or two before you cruise the best indoor park in Canada. BTL is also skateboarder owned and operated, pads are optional, and a good time is all but guaranteed.The Blue Tile Lounge has its own skateboard museum and is located at 35 Furbacher Lane in Aurora. Their phone number is (905) 726-3485. You have to pay to skate.

Pickering¿concrete

Don’t get me started.The Pickering Skatepark has a bowl and a street course, and it’s on Valley Farm Road in Pickering. Call ’em for better directions: (905) 831-1711. Skating’s free.

Sud Skates¿indoor, wood

One good reason to plan a honeymoon in the Niagara Falls area (besides the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Wax Museum) is the Sud Skates park. Home to one of the best mini ramps on the planet, this park has played host to countless demos over the years. The street course is a bit on the cramped side, but that doesn’t seem to stop the locals from killing it. Be sure to say hi to Joe, and ask him when the next local contest is.Sud Skates is located at 26 St. Paul Crescent in St. Catharine’s. You can call there at (905) 682-7837. Pads are required, and you have to pay to skate.

Kitchner Skatepark¿concrete

Kitchner, Ontario almost got it right. At the very least, the park is nice and wide-open, but nearly to a fault. It could really use a couple ledges thrown in the mix. The bowl is fun, but only as a launch ramp (this seems to be a bit of a theme with Ontario parks.) The quarterpipe looks as if it were troweled by someone with a severe nervous tick, and the flatbars are more appropriate for Smurfs than humans. But the pyramid is smooth and mellow.To get to Kitchener Skatepark take Highway 401, exit onto Highway 8, exit Ottawa Street, left at lights, follow to the auditorium. There is no charge to skate.)

Shell Park¿concrete

This is Ontario’s shining example of a quality public skatepark. In this case, the city of Oakville actually consulted with some skateboarders and took their input. The largest of Ontario’s public parks, this one could be mistaken for one of those phenomenal British Columbia parks the rest of the world is so envious of. The only real downfall of the park is that it’s a victim of its own success. The place is mad crowded. Small girls on in-line skates litter the park on a Saturday morning, so some scheduling is in order if you want to find fast lines.Shell Park is located on the north side of Lakeshore, between Bronte and Burloak. Skating’s on the house, and pads are required, sorta. Built by Stafford Haensli Architects.

Barrie Park¿concrete

For some reason, rumors flew that the Barrie Park was not particularly well built or designed, although sometimes hearsay and conjecture are not the best indicators of the truth. The park is not without flaws, but to write the whole facility off because of a poorly troweled quarterpipe would be foolish. The park is large and well lit at night, and the open-concept-style obstacle placement is a welcome change from the “let’s cram as many flatbars into this area as possible” approach. It’s kinda’ like an IKEA catalogue¿everything looks great at first, but some shoddy workmanship always shows through. Oh well, it builds character.The Barrie Park is located on High Street just past Dunlop Street. Skating’s complimentary, and pads don’t seem to be required.

, this park has played host to countless demos over the years. The street course is a bit on the cramped side, but that doesn’t seem to stop the locals from killing it. Be sure to say hi to Joe, and ask him when the next local contest is.Sud Skates is located at 26 St. Paul Crescent in St. Catharine’s. You can call there at (905) 682-7837. Pads are required, and you have to pay to skate.

Kitchner Skatepark¿concrete

Kitchner, Ontario almost got it right. At the very least, the park is nice and wide-open, but nearly to a fault. It could really use a couple ledges thrown in the mix. The bowl is fun, but only as a launch ramp (this seems to be a bit of a theme with Ontario parks.) The quarterpipe looks as if it were troweled by someone with a severe nervous tick, and the flatbars are more appropriate for Smurfs than humans. But the pyramid is smooth and mellow.To get to Kitchener Skatepark take Highway 401, exit onto Highway 8, exit Ottawa Street, left at lights, follow to the auditorium. There is no charge to skate.)

Shell Park¿concrete

This is Ontario’s shining example of a quality public skatepark. In this case, the city of Oakville actually consulted with some skateboarders and took their input. The largest of Ontario’s public parks, this one could be mistaken for one of those phenomenal British Columbia parks the rest of the world is so envious of. The only real downfall of the park is that it’s a victim of its own success. The place is mad crowded. Small girls on in-line skates litter the park on a Saturday morning, so some scheduling is in order if you want to find fast lines.Shell Park is located on the north side of Lakeshore, between Bronte and Burloak. Skating’s on the house, and pads are required, sorta. Built by Stafford Haensli Architects.

Barrie Park¿concrete

For some reason, rumors flew that the Barrie Park was not particularly well built or designed, although sometimes hearsay and conjecture are not the best indicators of the truth. The park is not without flaws, but to write the whole facility off because of a poorly troweled quarterpipe would be foolish. The park is large and well lit at night, and the open-concept-style obstacle placement is a welcome change from the “let’s cram as many flatbars into this area as possible” approach. It’s kinda’ like an IKEA catalogue¿everything looks great at first, but some shoddy workmanship always shows through. Oh well, it builds character.The Barrie Park is located on High Street just past Dunlop Street. Skating’s complimentary, and pads don’t seem to be required.