SkateParks: Not Just a Half-Pipe Dream

June 19, 2023

It’s amazing to see an object through another person’s eyes. Especially if that person comes from a completely different perspective than you do.

At Compass, we’ve sold a lot of pipe bends that were simply designed for flowing liquids. But about ten years ago, a group of skateboarders saw the pipe bends we created and must have thought, “Wohoo, let’s railslide over some of those!”

Flash forward to today, and this group of skateboarders has a thriving business called New Line Skateparks, that builds skateboard parks all over Canada.

We recently had the chance to catch up with Jeff Craig, who is  New Line’s Construction Project Manager.  He told us that the company started with “Advocacy.” Really?

Well, it seems that there are a lot of signs out there that say, “No Skateboarding.”

And they wanted to do something about it.

After all, what was former generations’  “go out and play” has now turned into a culture of scheduled sports that are driven to by parents, and then monitored, coached and scored. And for those not involved in sports, their go-to choice of recreation tends to be electronic games or social media, creating a scourge of depression and loneliness in today’s youth.

So there are few places where youth can go to get fresh air and play in a relaxed, unstructured manner, without their parents worrying about their whereabouts or keeping score.

Skateparks are one such oasis.

At Compass, we’re very proud to be part of assisting New Line in the construction of the many exciting skateparks to entertain youth across Canada.

How Pipes Become Half-Pipes, and More

While it may sound like building a half-pipe is a chop-a-pipe-down-the-middle endeavour, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Half-pipes are those deep, u-shaped bowls where skateboarders careen from side to side, lofting into the air at their apexes, almost suspending themselves in mid-air before flipping around and floating back down again into the wall of the bowl, where they repeat the process, launching progressively higher into the air.

“The main terrain contours are supported with gravel and clay, accounting for the original shape of the land. We then cover them in concrete. But the concrete cannot cling to the surface without first installing metal C-channel and Nelson studs, which Compass provides,” says Craig.

Beyond the pipe features, there are many other metal components, such as rails, benches, and pipes to give the riders practice with balancing, flipping and gliding on decks. There are also stairs, risers, and treads, explains Craig. “Compass handles all our steelwork and stairs.”

Sound like a lot of work? Well, not only does New Line design and construct the skateparks, but they are intimately involved with advocating for community support, assisting with fundraising, and preparing launch events. That’s quite a labour of love, to say the least.

Child enjoying a skatepark
Child enjoying a skatepark with their parent

How Compass Lightens New Line’s Load

As New Line’s pipe and metalworking supplier for the past ten years, our team at Compass puts in a little extra logistical service to lighten New Line’s load.

“Compass not only supplies all the contoured metal components required for various park features, but facilitates some of the logistics – like coordinating the galvanizing of the metal pieces, and delivering materials to the site,” says Craig. “They give us a one-stop solution for all the steel we need, which makes our job so much easier.”

New Line’s parks stretch from BC to Ontario, which is quite an achievement for such a young company.

Fascinated by how to make a skatepark just the right balance of excitement and safety, we had to ask Craig how he does it. “I’m a skateboarder myself,” he says, “Just like everybody here. So I test the grades on my own deck.”

Hey, Nice Pipes!

To an older crowd that doesn’t understand the lingo and saggy pants, skateboarding may seem like it’s not a serious, athletic endeavour. But think again.

Skateboarding requires athletic ability, timing, precision, and considerable practice – to achieve a combination of style and ease or “steez” in the boarders’ vernacular.

Witness the scrapes and bruises on the well-muscled young arms and legs at any skatepark.

Nice “pipes” like those only come from a sport that requires considerable tenacity. “Kids will spend hours at a skatepark,” says Craig, “And those are hours they’re not playing video games or obsessing over social media.”

It’s also an environmentally friendly form of commuting to school or jobs.

It’s About the Future

There’s no argument that today’s children are tomorrow’s future. But today, they need their communities to advocate for them.

So the next time you see a sign that says, “No Skateboarding,” maybe you should ask, “If no skateboarding can happen here, then where is it allowed?” It might be time for a skatepark in your community. After all, wherever there’s a “No Skateboarding” sign, there was once some kid trying to enjoy a skateboard, right?

In our view, New Line Skateparks is helping to create a happier next generation, and Compass is, thrilled to be part of it.

Thank you for all you’re doing to make the world better place, New Line. Stay gnarly.

Thank you to Madiha Mohammed and her family – on Instagram @boardmohammeds, @amayazm, @safiyashredz, who loaned us the use of their fantastic skateboarding action shots!