Adelaide Skate Park

May 21, 2014

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 16:37 :37 ): I move:

That this council—

1.Notes that skate parks across the world provide for considerable positive youth development opportunities;

2.Notes that the Adelaide City Skate Park has been an outstanding social and recreational space for South Australia since June 2000, and in this time it has also provided a career launch pad for professional skaters and riders;

3.Expresses concern that, as a result of announcements to build new medical facilities on the site of the Adelaide City Skate Park, the state government has terminated its lease with the Adelaide City Council effective June 2014, yet has not made a corresponding financial commitment for a replacement central city skate space; and

4.Calls upon the state government to urgently ensure a temporary skate facility in the interim and commits to funding a new permanent central city skate space in the upcoming budget.

I rise today to talk about a situation concerning the city skaters and the wider community. I am talking about the future of the Adelaide City Skate Park. I say 'future' because it is actually a lack of future that the skate park is currently facing. The skate park has actually been an iconic site in our city for many years. It is an excellent social and recreational space but it has also been the starting point for many professional skaters and riders.

The current skate park is well located, easily accessible, and it is also accessible to people from outside the city. It is close to convenience stores, cafes, toilets and other relevant facilities, and it is highly visible—it is a safe space—and it helps to integrate the skating community of our wider metropolitan area. Indeed, it is a place where tourists come. The skate park's original lease was for 20 years and that commenced in June 2000, but the lease states that after 10 years either party can request termination of that lease with 12 months' notice and, indeed, that is what has happened.

The Weatherill state Labor government provided formal notice on 18 June 2013 and indicated that they would like to work cooperatively with the Adelaide City Council to 'identify future options for the skate park's relocation'. So the state government terminated that lease and it takes effect on 18 June next month. Of course, the site will now be the site of the new Cancer Research Centre for the University of South Australia. Now that is a welcome development but what is not so welcome is the delay that we have seen in securing a future for the current city skate park.

So far, no allocation has been made in the long-term financial plan for the relocation of the City Skate Park, even though it is now 11 months since we saw the termination of the lease. The park and its users therefore find themselves not knowing what the future may hold and whether or not they will have a facility to continue to socialise in and skate in that is so accessible, so open and so integrated.

The government has not been particularly quick in making the plans to relocate the skate park and the Adelaide City Council has indeed been consulting very actively with its current users of that skate park and indeed other community members on what a future park might look like. The Adelaide City Council has recognised the importance of that recreational and social space. I challenge the Weatherill Labor government to do the same.

The Adelaide City Council has formally endorsed three sites for consideration for the establishment of a new skate facility and indeed possibly a broader activity hub. They are Park 27, Tulya Wodli in the Riverbank precinct, Narnungga (Park 25) or indeed the old RAH site which, as we know, is having claims laid to it for many projects that may affect the future of our city.

The relocation of the skate facility is contingent of course upon a funding commitment from the Weatherill state government. Premier Weatherill has been quoted as saying that the skate park will be relocated to ensure that young people still had a place to meet but so far, 11 months on, no-one knows what is actually happening. The government has not released any plans or consultations for the future of the park and indeed, in just a few weeks, we know that that lease will expire.

The skating community is hoping that a new site will be equally, if not indeed more, accessible and visible to the public. They are concerned that it may be shunted off to the side and disconnected from the wider community. That they do not want. The newly redeveloped Victoria Square is attracting groups of skaters. I would note that this is causing some clashes with businesses and while I do believe that there are some valid concerns for public safety and indeed there are allegations of damage being done to the wooden public seats from skaters, who are grinding on the curved wooden benches, that space is also quite well designed for skaters and the broader public to happily coexist. However, the situation has the potential to escalate once the City Skate Park on North Terrace closes in June this year.

Such incidences and information highlight the need for planning of a new skate park urgently to replace our iconic site that we currently have on North Terrace. That site is becoming increasingly popular. According to the ABS figures, the participation between 2009 to 2012 for boys and young men in bike riding grew from 66 per cent to 70 per cent and for girls from 54 per cent to 57 per cent, and indeed skateboarding and rollerblading grew from 56 per cent to 60 per cent for boys and from 42 per cent to 47 per cent for girls. There is a growing interest in action sports such as skateboarding, roller derby, BMX, etc. Indeed, BMX has now replaced baseball at the Olympics as of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

I would like to list the reasons why the City Skate Park is so popular and so successful. It is, as I said, accessible by public transport. It is in a high profile location that creates high awareness and provides a safe environment. It supports all abilities and ages. It is lit at night, has CCTV and an emergency phone. It has a range of supporting infrastructure and it is close to other stores such as convenience stores and public facilities such as toilets.

It would be an absolute tragedy to lose that space but, lose it we will, because in June, of course, the lease will expire and sometime shortly after, the redevelopment of the Riverbank will begin. The council's Active City Strategy recommends that the council and the state government will:

… engage with young people in exploring opportunities for a larger youth activity space that supports a range of skate styles as well as complementary urban activities such as parkour and three on three basketball.

This strategy also recommends that we ensure that the space remains highly visible, prominent and accessible. The termination of the City Skate Park lease has brought forward urgently the need to address and implement this strategy. The closure of the skate park is now imminent.

It is weeks away. It is likely that there will be a period in which no purpose-built skate facility will be available in the city. It is recommended that consideration is therefore also given to urgently establishing a temporary skate facility such as that which can be achieved through the installation of skate modules. That can provide a temporary skate park, which is also an excellent opportunity to really properly engage with the community and test the different site options and see what could be possible for our vibrant city of Adelaide.

Skate parks have the ability to provide for considerable youth development, personal adjustment, social integration, and particularly so for young people. It is quite well known that the good skate parks satisfy the leisure needs of young people—they reduce loitering and they reduce delinquency. A recent study by the researchers from the University of WA found that skate parks are more likely to promote good behaviour and community engagement amongst our young people than the stereotypes of what a skate park would have previously indicated.

The community survey has revealed that young people cooperate, they learn, they teach, they help and they respect others in skate park environments. They socialise with friends and they take turns at the skate park. These instances of good behaviour far outweigh the rare incidents of any antisocial behaviour at skate parks. The findings of that research highlight the importance and benefit of having a skate park in Adelaide, should anyone need further convincing.

Should anyone need inspiration for what could be possible in Adelaide in our vibrant city, they need not look further than either the Fremantle Youth Plaza or the Belconnen Skate Park. Both are open, popular, modern, visible, close to facilities and create that very community I have been talking about. They also host many high-profile skating competitions and events and provide for that opportunity. That space could be such an asset to Adelaide, and we are about to lose it. It is important that the government urgently works with skaters and, as we have already seen in the new redevelopment in Victoria Square, if we don't have a skate park in the city our city may indeed become a skate park. That would lead to conflict between skaters and the community that could very well be avoided had the government taken this issue more seriously 11 months ago when it announced that the lease was to be terminated.

I certainly have a lot of sympathy for, and share the frustrations of, those skaters who have been waiting for an announcement from government. Certainly during the election just past, where the Weatherill government was returned on 15 March, I note that many promises were made to the skating community. The Labor candidate for the seat of Adelaide tweeted on 22 February, as part of his campaign, 'Only Labor has $20m for investment in the parklands—a new skate park on the riverbank? love#adelaide'.

We were told many times during the election that #jaygetsit. The Greens are here to challenge the Labor government and ask if #jaygetsit why have we waited 11 months since the termination of the lease on the old skate park to see any announcement on the funding of a new skate park? With the state budget next month we still have not heard a single peep from this government about what it plans to do to ensure that that community of skaters, which is about to lose its facility in a month's time, is actually given a new skate park and that site commences to be redeveloped.

We know that it will take a lot longer than a few weeks to build a new skate park. We know these skaters will be missing out on that facility for a few months—we hope it will not be a few years. We urge the Labor Weatherill government to show that #jaygetsit and that we have a #vibrant #adelaide, not just for the Lonely Planet guide but also for the skaters that use that current facility. With that, I commend the motion to the council.

Debated adjourned on motion of Hon. J.M. Gazzola.


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