Surrey’s parks staff have innovative plans for the future site of East Clayton’s Hazelgrove Park, something the city has not seen before.
The new park at 7080 190 St. will feature the city’s first purpose-built parkour course.
But what exactly is parkour?
“It’s about moving between two points as efficiently as possible using only your body and the urban environment,” said West Breden, co-founder of Parkour Surrey, a group of local parkour enthusiasts. “It’s just you and your body moving from point A to point B as creatively and fluidly as you can.”
Some of these movements include flipping and jumping over ledges and railings, scaling large concrete walls and even leaping from rooftop to rooftop, all without padding or safety equipment of any kind.
Traceurs and traceuses, the men and women who practise parkour, need to know their bodies well because parkour is like “street gymnastics” in a sense.
“It’s different from [traditional] gymnastics because you’re doing everything without having mats… jumps and stuff,” said traceur Jeremiah Borkowski.
Parks Manager Owen Croy said a parkour course is “almost certain to be” in the final plans for Hazelgrove Park.
“What form it might take might vary a little bit when the detailed design is done,” said Croy, “but we’re pretty intent on having a parkour course there for sure.”
Originating in France more than 20 years ago, parkour has seen a rise in popularity throughout the Lower Mainland in recent years.
In 2012, Vancouver’s first parkour gym, Origins, was opened and in the summer of 2013, city staff decided that the final plan for Vancouver’s Hastings Park would include a parkour course.
However, as dangerous as it may seem at first glance, City of Surrey staff says they’re not too concerned with the potential liability issues of a parkour course.
“The city has been pretty good at looking at what people are interested in and finding safe ways for them to do it,” said Croy. “We expect that this course will have great obstacles, great climbing devices, things for jumping from item to item. We certainly think it’s going to be a lot of fun and people will be able to do it safely.”
Breden agreed that parkour, when practised responsibly, is much safer than the average person might think.
“People think it’s daredevil and stuff and it’s actually not,” said Breden. “I never got injured in seven years of practising it. If you feel like you can’t do it, 99.9 per cent of the time you’re probably not going to, so don’t try it. It’s only when you feel that you’re absolutely ready for it, so it’s very rare that someone actually injures themselves.”
Breden’s only concern with the new course is that it may attract newcomers who “may misrepresent parkour.”
“[There could be] that whole ‘skate park mentality’, where it’s just a bunch of hooligans jumping around, causing havoc,” he said. “It creates this place now where it may turn into a negative place, so it’s kind of our job to teach newcomers about respecting the property.”
Despite those concerns, Breden insists that parkour is a very inclusive activity and having more experienced traceurs around to teach can be helpful.
“Not knowing what you’re doing for the first time is kind of scary,” he said. “So having those [more experienced] people around you to help mentor you is the best way to go.”
Also likely to be included in the final park plan are a water spray park, soccer field, games court, tennis courts, a mini-BMX track and a walking loop.