Sackville town council is considering doing away with bylaw provisions that ban skateboards on town streets.
Coun. Andrew Black sits on the Policy and By-law Committee, which brought an amended Street Traffic bylaw forward at this past Monday’s council meeting. He says the discussion around amending the bylaw started back in September.
“A number of people had noticed a number of skateboarders in town,” says Black. “And we’ve had an anti-skateboard by-law on the books for quite some time. So we just started throwing around the idea of bringing it forward to council again, and seeing if there was any interest in changing it.”
Black says that the issue is longstanding, and has been mentioned in years past, when improvements to the skatepark were being discussed.
“Every time skateboards came up, it seemed to be either myself or a couple other councillors who mentioned how silly it was to have an anti-skateboard bylaw on the books," he adds.
Black is a skateboarder himself, and says it’s odd to have a bylaw banning a mode of transportation.
“We talk about how Sackville wants to be an active community,” says Black. “There’s a stress for people to be able to get around without using vehicles, and to have a healthy lifestyle in Sackville. And skateboarding is certainly one of those modes of transportation where you don’t need to rely on fossil fuels, you can just get around by yourself, which is certainly something to be celebrated.”
Black says he’s confident there are people who would use skateboards to get around, if there weren’t a by-law prohibiting them from doing so.
“I’ve seen lots of people walk their skateboards from their house to the skate park in recognition of the bylaw, which is commendable,” says Black. “But I’m sure they would love to be able to skate on the streets just as a bike would, or rollerblades for that matter.”
The committee consulted the local RCMP, who had no issue with the idea of scrapping the law, says Black. For simplicity’s sake, the committee decided to simply strike the portion of the bylaw banning skateboards, and add the mode in with the sections covering bicycles and rollerblades. That means skateboards, like bikes and inline skates, are allowed on streets but not on sidewalks in town and helmets must be worn while using them.
The proposed amendment will come back to council next month, says Black, and most likely get a second and third reading at that time.
Black says that once the bylaw is changed, he will likely be one of the people taking advantage of it, as he did before he knew that bylaw existed.
“It used to be, before I was on council, that I would longboard to work,” says Black. “I got pulled over by an RCMP officer, one of the officers that I knew from Sackville, and he said, Andrew, you know, you’re not allowed to skateboard on the streets. At the time, I didn’t know that, and I made a joke and said, well, it’s not a skateboard, it’s a longboard, which he didn’t find particularly funny. He gave me warning, and that was the end of that.”
“So will it change things for me? Yeah, I’d love to be able to longboard more in town, and be okay with it, and feel comfortable doing that,” says Black.
Town council’s next regular meeting is March 8, with a discussion meeting happening the week before on March 1.
Hear this story as reported on Tantramar Report: