Eddie McLaughlin has waited 20 years to see an outdoor skate park come to Newmarket.
The graphic designer for the municipality said it is a sport he grew up with, and it is something his family now shares in.
He called it "amazing" to see Newmarket open up its first outdoor skate facility.
“I grew up with all the skate parks before the indoor ones were in the rinks,” he said. “This is huge for us, and this community, and I’m really excited.”
Newmarket celebrated the opening of the park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Magna Centre location Aug. 30. About two years in the making, the park has an array of features meant to be usable by novice and experienced skaters alike. Features include a junior area with a quarter pipe, rails, a multi-depth flow bowl, a shaded area with benches and more.
Ward 1 Councillor Grace Simon said she was envious of other municipality’s outdoor parks and was excited to see Newmarket get one.
“I know that the youth are always looking for special spaces and places,” she said. “This has been well achieved here at the Magna Centre. A really great, safe space for our young adults and youth to come out and gather and tend to be active.”
The project began with residents reaching out to the town about the need, Mayor John Taylor said. He added that the Magna Centre location made sense with all the supports nearby.
“We want to see healthy, active, and happy families and healthy, active and happy kids. I think this is another step forward. Let's have less screen time and more skate time, and this is an opportunity to do that," he said.
Nine-year-old Ottawa skateboarder Freyja Michael, visiting her grandmother in Aurora, has been in the sport for four years. She said she looks forward to getting use out of the park.
“My parents have always thought skateboarding was cool, and I also like to show (that) girls, they can also do what boys do,” she said. “Also, it’s really fun.”
Although Newmarket has had an indoor skate park for years, skaters looking for an outdoor experience had to go elsewhere. Resident Stephen Plumley said his son is an avid skater, and they would travel to Richmond Hill or Barrie.
“Now, we can keep it close to home,” he said. “It’s a great layout, well designed, well thought out, the perfect spot for it.”
The facility is “use at your own risk” and unsupervised, with no motorized or electric vehicles permitted. It will also not be maintained in winter and is not recommended in poor weather.
The park will be covered under the town’s existing insurance policy for liability concerns, commissioner of community services Jeff Payne said. The town has insurance to cover liability at its various parks and green spaces, he said.
McLaughlin said it is a great facility to have in the summer.
“Just being outside and having it feel more like skateboarding’s natural element,” he said. “It’s nice to have this and be able to do it inside as well.”