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North Vancouver district outlaws skateboarding along popular streets
Politicians in the District of North Vancouver have outlawed skateboarding from one of the North Shore’s most popular routes for riders, causing some on council to worry the move is a step down the slippery slope of banning skateboarding from the district altogether.
In a 4-3 decision Monday night, district council voted to ban skateboarding from the 3.5-kilometre stretch of Forest Hills roadway encompassing Skyline Drive, Wavertree Road and Glenview Drive. And while the target of the ban is young longboarders who flock to these streets to race en masse down the steep grades and sharp corners, the ban is a blanket one outlawing all forms skateboarding on the three roads.
Signs notifying skaters of the new bylaw are expected to spring up soon along the Skyline Drive corridor and, in two weeks, district engineers will explore the use of “board calming” measures such as so-called rumble-strips, if necessary.
The vote was a contentious one, with no two councillors nor Mayor Richard Walton proposing the same solution.
All agreed that protecting young longboarders from injury while preserving the enjoyment of the Forest Hills neighbourhood for residents was a priority. But that aim had many preferred paths.
Voting against the neighbourhood skateboarding ban were Mayor Walton and councillors Mike Little and Roger Bassam.
Walton said he’d only vote for the blanket ban if it included outlawing longboards from all district bus routes too. Council and staff argued this was too broad and would punish the typical law-abiding commuter skateboarder rather than those few reckless speeders they were trying to reign in.
“We’re saying that we want to stop skateboarders on Skyline [Drive] because we have a concern about it,” Coun. Bassam argued. “But the rational destination of this argument is we’re going to ban skateboarding.”
Supporting the ultimately victorious neighbourhood prohibition bylaw were councillors Lisa Muri, Alan Nixon, Robyn Hicks and Doug MacKay-Dunn, who authored the report. Their fundamental premise was that unless council acts now, someone’s going to be gravely injured or killed while coming down the Skyline corridor on a longboard.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we have to extend the prohibition to other local roads too,” Coun. Hicks said in a statement of support for the ban, though one that also inadvertently gave credence to the arguments of some in the anti-ban camp who say district bylaw officers will now find themselves playing an endless game of Whac-A-Mole with local longboarders.
“It’ll be interesting to know how long it takes for the first person to ask, ‘Why should I have to put up with longboarders when Skyline doesn’t?’” Bassam asked rhetorically.