Council approves backyard skateboarding after decades-long ban
City council has voted in favour of allowing backyard skateboard ramps starting in September 2016.
For decades, skateboarders were treated like trespassers in many cities, but times change, and many cities now have prominent skateboard parks. But building your own ramp in your own yard remained taboo, until now.
“It feels really good,” said Zev Klymochko, Calgary Association of Skateboarding Enthusiasts. “This is a law we always thought was one of those crazy laws that’s been on the books a long time.”
Evan Woolley, Ward 8 Councillor, has long supported the backyard ramps, saying they fill a special niche.
“These backyard skateboard ramps are about creating a space for some of the younger kids, we are building eight new skate parks across the city and that’s where the older skateboarders go,” he said.
The issue was in the forefront most recently this past winter when a Calgary father was ordered to remove his $3,000 backyard ramp. After CTV aired a story, council relented, saying he didn’t have to remove the ramp, but he still wasn’t allowed to use it.
Under the old rules, people could not build the ramps without a development permit. There were concerns with noise created by using the ramps, but council now says it’s not worried.
“We undertook a lot of engagement and sound testing to prove that this is not going to be of huge impact any more than a trampoline, a basketball or generally people just having fun in their back yards,” said Woolley.
An adult riding on a skateboard ramp creates sound ranging from 54 to 65 decibels, according to a city report, depending on the type of material used to build the ramp.
Calgary bylaws allow for a maximum continuous noise level in residential neighbourhoods of 65 decibels during the day (defined as 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends) and 50 decibels at night.
As a result, council also voted to change the city's community standards bylaw to prohibit the use of backyard skate ramps after 10 p.m.
Under the new rules, people can build a ramp 1.5 metres high by 5 metres wide by 6 metres long without a permit required.
The precise wording of the new bylaw still needs to be finalized and approved by council. That should happen in September.