Even though Quebec's public skateparks situation has improved considerably in the last couple years, we still have some some ground to cover compared to other Canadian provinces. Fortunately, there are guys like Hugo Papillon, who take grab the bull by the horns and who, with an experience that only real skaters can have, manage to build parks that skaters actually like.
If, like us, you want to support the construction of quality skateparks in our beautiful province of Quebec, give him a follow!
If you don't know Hugo Papillon from Papillon Skateparks Inc. already, you got to know one thing: The guy skates for real. With nearly 20 skateparks under his belt all over Quebec, Hugo is at the heart of the movement that fights to improve the state of our skateparks and by taking advantage of the ultra-precise knowledge that only good skateboarder can have, his projects are always massive success stories.
To learn more about how to get your own park in your municipality, read on.
How would you qualify the general state of our skateparks in Quebec in 2018?
The overall state of skateparks here is still a little outdated when compared to any other place in America. For decades, parks have been made by unqualified manufacturers who have left us with suspect modular installations, and for the same amount of money it takes to built concrete skateparks, without ever checking if the skaters like the obstacles. That being said, we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as real concrete parks are slowly starting to pop all over the province.
I think this phenomenon came with the rise Internet and social networks. Citizens are better informed about what is happening elsewhere and can make their voices be heard much easier as well as put an end to projects that will certainly be failures. It also allows them to get organized as a group. They can get together and have more weight in the eyes of decision makers.
When and why did you decide to start your own skatepark building company?
After a while people came down from Montreal and even Quebec to come and enjoy our "home-made" facilities, so I realized that there was potential and that our obstacles created a real hype. Today, the same manufacturers who forced us to build our own facilities are still trying to convince municipalities to build the same types of obsolete parks, so our job is to educate the cities and make them understand that, although fully molded concrete courses are much more complicated to build, the result is not just comparable. For the sustainability as well as for the riding experience. We often hear that municipalities do not consult enough real skaters when it comes time to build their skateparks. Why do you think the skateboarder's opinion is so important? It's simple. We are the users, so it's important that they consult us if they want us to like it! Skateboarding is very different from other sports where the size of the terrain follows a certain standard. Each skatepark is unique and requires extensive experience: you need to know the right speed for each obstacle, the flow of traffic that maximizes safety, the heights that will allow every skill level to have fun, etc. It's downright impossible to design a good park if you are not an active skater who has tested hundreds of other parks. To get into details a little more, what is the difference between a park designed by skaters and a park designed by non-skaters? A skatepark designer who is experienced in skateboarding understands how to build a course that will appeal to as many people as possible by enabling the users progression. They include the different styles of skating practiced and can make compromises in a more judicious way in order to allow everyone to have fun and improve their own skills. The Proof: How many Quebec skaters reached the international professional status? -Two: PLG in vert and Dan Pageau in street, in the 90's. And how many skaters from Ontario made it? -A lot: Rick Mccrank, Mark Appleyard, TJ rogers, Morgan Smith, Bobby Dekeyzer, Wade Desarmo, Spencer Hamilton, Gailea Momolu, Grant Patterson, Russ Milligan et j'en passe! The only difference between the two provinces is that these skaters living in Ontario have all benefited from skateparks that allowed them to develop and continue to practice because they enjoyed skating in the facilities that was built for them. According to you, what does a quality skatepark brings to a municipality? It gives the youth something to do and keeps them out of trouble while gathering them around a physical activity in which we do not care about your talent. Nobody is going to tag you and classify you in a certain category depending if you're good or not: If you're nice, you're in the gang. that's it! The sports practiced in a skatepark also require real little investment or organization, so it is open to any social class.You have only to drive past a real concrete skatepark to see what the craze is all about. Well-done projects are always successful. "Build it and they will come" as they say. What's your ultimate goal when you start to built a new park?
I am from Joliette, where you can find a dozen mediocre skateparks within a 20km radius. When we realized that it wasn't with such facilities that we would improve our skills or even just have fun, me and my friends began to build our own obstacles on the foundations of abandoned buildings and remote bike paths.
I want people have fun. short and long term, regardless of their level. The most rewarding part is to see local kids go from nothing and become super good by practicing every day on our facilities, just because they have fun. We are currently skating our Grand-Mère park, which is very close to our Shawinigan one and there are two kids who are starting to get seriously good by skating every day. This is the best paycheck I could ask for!
Do you have any advice for young people who would like to have a new skatepark in their city?
Everything comes from your own implication. Cities have budgets to meet the demands of citizens, so it's by following these requests that the money is spent. If the only requests a city gets are by 2 people wanting a tennis court, that's what they will build! When citizens stand up for what they want, it works. Don't be embarrassed to ask, you might be very surprised about what a single request can do to a city. Just imagine when people come together and take matter into their own hands with petitions and financing activities. I saw a group of 3 elementary school kids convince their city to build a several thousand dollars worth skateboard park by presenting a cardboard model to the cities officials. You can do it too!
Now that you know what you need to do to encourage the construction of a quality park in your municipality, it's up to you! Because who does not ask for anything has nothing!
Have a nice week end!