‘How can we make our town inclusive, with real shared space, not empty seats and empty footpaths?’
COMMENT by Cr CHANSEY PAECH
I am very disappointed at my colleagues’ decision to back away from having a trial period of skateboarding in the northern Todd Mall.
While I understood the concerns that had been raised, in the end it was skaters and young people in Alice Springs who were the losers.
Absolutely nothing in life is risk free and I strongly believe we shouldn’t be backing away from being a community that includes young people because we think they might hurt themselves doing physical activity.
I originally raised this issue because young people were being fined large amounts of money for doing what they and everyone else originally thought they could do – skate on furniture that was specifically designed for this purpose.
I reluctantly supported the motion to investigate the option for more skate facilities, mainly because I think it is important we talk and listen to what skateboarders and young people actually want.
For a councillor to sit in chambers and put forward their ideas on where people can skate and when and how seems ridiculous.
We need to actively consult skateboarders and young people about what they want, where they want it and how we can make our town inclusive, with real shared space, not empty seats and empty footpaths.
From what skaters have told me, they don’t want to be in a nice little box out of the way, out of sight.
As Rainer Chlanda put it so eloquently in [his article on this site] “the street is to skaters what the ocean is to surfers”.
I will continue to work with young people in Alice Springs, and of course the not so young, who want to work towards a more inclusive and welcoming community.
I will also be investigating how we can take a less punitive approach to punishing people who venture into the CBD without ID.