Sabin Ramsay and his friends have done what so far the Town of Petrolia has not.
Ramsay and his friends had been using the Petrolia Farmers’ Market to skateboard since the skateboard park in Englehart Park fell into disrepair.
But Ramsay says they weren’t welcome there anymore. “They were getting angry with us,” says the teen “they didn’t want us there.”
Last fall some residents complained to town council about the teens using the market for skateboarding. Town officials said at the time they were continuing to look for the appropriate spot for a skateboard/bike park. But so far, there has not been any solution.
But the teens have found a solution themselves. While walking away from the market one evening Ramsay and his friends found a large concrete square, which used to be the foundation of a flea market. “It was a pretty big mess,” says Ramsay. The teens got to work scrapping off old linoleum and then sweeping the concrete until it was clear enough to skate on.
Soon, they found the owner – Charles Fairbank – who gave the okay for them to use the pad – suggesting they make sure the equipment didn’t touch the fence, which separates the pad from a seniors’ apartment.
The teens started bringing in their equipment. Someone brought a metal bar for jumps and Ramsay and his dad took the weekend to build a half pipe ramp which they installed Monday and students were using the moment it was ready.
The teens are enjoying their self-built skate park.
“The town’s skate park was alright at first,” says Michael Dickinson. But it was in pretty rough shape before it was dismantled for the new health centre to be constructed. “This cement is nicer than that tennis court,” says Dickinson.
“No one went there anymore,” says Justin McDonald.
But their new park is already filled with skaters and bikers. Monday afternoon there were about a dozen kids on the pad.
While the teens are disappointed the town has yet to do anything, they’re proud of their new area. “We almost appreciate this more because we did it ourselves,” says Dickinson. “It makes feel good about doing it.”
Ramsay agrees. “A skate park (that the town would build) is permanent,” he says. “This you can move around and change it if you don’t like it.”
Ramsay’s dad, Jamie, is proud of the kids’ initiative and says the older teens work hard to include everyone. “Its really nice that they all care and they all help each other.”
And the owner of the property is impressed, too. “I think if the town ever does decide to do something and they’re going to hire consultants, they should hire these kids instead,” says Fairbank.