Surrey to open longboarding site

Surrey to open longboarding site

SOUTH SURREY — Longboarders on the peninsula will soon have a safe place to perform their sport as the city is opening a designated longboarding site at the South Surrey Athletic Park.

Starting in late spring, the City of Surrey will allow longboarders to use the service access road leading to the athletic park’s running track, as part of a pilot project. The site is aimed at beginners as a safe environment to learn the sport.

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“We recognize the growing popularity of the sport of longboarding among today’s youth,” said Mayor Dianne Watts in a statement. “In developing this site we want to ensure the safety of both the participants and the public.”

“The development of more challenging designated longboarding sites in the future is something we will work towards as the sport continues to grow,” stated Coun. Linda Hepner, who chairs the city’s parks, recreation and sport tourism committee.

Hepner added that the city will observe the impact of the site over the summer before any future sites are planned.

Longboarding was a hot button issue on the peninsula last summer, after a number of accidents in other parts of the Lower Mainland raised questions about the sport’s safety.

Unlike skateboarding, longboarding is largely designed for downhill courses rather than skateparks, which makes the hilly parts of South Surrey and White Rock ideal spots for riders to perform. However, longboarding is prohibited on Surrey roadways, and the sport is banned in White Rock, which leaves athletes with few places to do the sport.

“White Rock and South Surrey is a mecca for longboarding and the whole banning thing doesn’t do anything,” South Surrey resident and former professional longboarder Dan Pape told the Now last June. “These municipalities are resorting to using the law to stop the kids, when really, educating is the key.”

Pape argued that holding seminars on longboarding safety to inform young riders would do more to prevent injuries than banning the sport.

“Some of these kids just buy a longboard for commuting around,” he said. “We don’t have a longboarding issue in this province, it’s an education issue.”

– with files from Christopher Poon