The Pūroro Rangaranga | Social, Cultural and Economic Committee approved recommending 5.64M of capital funding to go towards the development of a large regional skate facility proposed with Kilbirnie Park being the preferred site subject to Annual Plan consultation.
The decision followed a feasibility study requested by Councillors through the 2021-2024 Long-term Plan process, and based on findings of the 2020 Skate Community Engagement Report and the 2017 Wellington Play Spaces Policy.
Skateboarding is an increasingly popular recreation activity with significant growth among school children, young women and adults wanting a low cost, low emissions and flexible mode of transport and activity.
The feasibility study also noted that a regional skate facility would bring a range of positive economic, social and health benefits to the city – attracting international visitors to big events, being a community hub, and encouraging mental and physical health and activity in all ages and demographics.
Committee Chair Councillor Jill Day agrees, saying over subscribed skate courses and recent engagement has shown it’s popular, appeals to a wide range of the local population, and helps to build strong social cohesion.
“The 2021 Children & Young People Strategy asked young people what they wanted, and easy access and provision of skate facilities and places to safely hang out and play were important to them.
“This growth in activity, particularly with young women, has seen two female-run skate schools start operating in the last two years – Waa Hine Skate and Skate Ed.
“Approval for a Destination Skate Park is perfectly timed as it coincides with a new behavioural change campaign ‘We Skate Poneke’ – designed to remove the stigma associated with skate, break down the stereotypes, and encourage safe and responsible skating too,” adds Councillor Day.
This development also forms part of Council’s other programmes and initiatives, says Mayor Andy Foster.
“A Destination Skate Park would contribute to the Council’s vision for Wellington 2040, making sure the city is an inclusive, sustainable and creative capital for people to live, work and play.
“The health benefits of skating are also obvious, it’s fun, and it’s an easy and flexible way to commute around the city – with no emissions, which is in line with our Te Atakura – First to Zero goal.
“While we currently have more modest skate parks around the city, this new skate park will really put Wellington, and the proposed site of Kilbirnie, on the map as a destination for skating enthusiasts and events from around the country and internationally.”
One of the stars of the ‘We Skate’ campaign, Jessica Wilson, is one of the many young women who is advocating for the sport – and the need for more places to skate.
“Since skateboard lessons are being taught across the country by inspiring skaters like Melissa Warner and Amber Clyde, more enthusiastic kids are getting into the sport. These lessons create a fun and safe space for newbies as well as anyone wanting to improve their skating. With the help of decent and varied skate parks, I think this will further open the door for more skaters.
“If you’re looking for a challenging, flexible sport give skating a go. It’s worth it,” she adds.
In February 2021 Council agreed to allocate a total of 1.5M from the Charles Plimmer Bequest to fund elements of the Kilbirnie Park masterplan that align with the intention of the bequest (to provide for beautification work).
Today’s decision will recommend to the Annual Plan/Long Term Plan Committee that a further 5.64M of capital funding for the development of a Destination Skate Park.
Council will engage more widely on the proposed re-development of Kilbirnie Park as part of the master plan process.