Victoria skateboarder pushes for bylaw changes

Jake Warren thinks council should repeal ability of bylaw officers to seize skateboards

A local TV producer and avid skateboarder wants the city to repeal a bylaw that bans downtown skateboarding and allows officials to seize boards.

Jake Warren, producer for Absolute Underground TV, started an online petition that calls the bylaw discriminatory towards the green mode of transportation. Nearly 1,000 people so far have added their names.

“I’m hearing that council is open-minded to hearing our suggestions about ways skateboards might be able to use bike lanes and be integrated and regulated properly, like bikes are,” Warren said.

On June 5, Warren, 42, had his skateboard seized by bylaw officers for riding illegally in the “red zone,” an area of the downtown core stretching from Wharf Street to Quadra and Blanshard streets, and from Herald to Belleville streets.

Warren said skateboarders have dealt with stigmatization for decades, despite the practice being ingrained in North American culture since the mid-1980s. The ability for officers to seize skateboards, approved by Victoria council in 1991, should have never passed, he said.

“(Revising the bylaw) will be a victory for us as a skateboard community and all the people who choose to use skateboards as a green mode of transportation. I wouldn’t encourage skateboarding on every street, but let’s talk about the options.”

At least one city councillor is on board with the idea of treating skateboards like any other mode of transport.

Coun. Ben Isitt updated his Facebook page last week, saying he looks forward to a rigorous debate to create a “revised bylaw that regulates rather than bans skateboarding in our urban core.”

To view Warren’s petition, visit bit.ly/18a4Eii

dpalmer@vicnews.com