nb-skate-park-helmet

Saint John skateboarders will be facing fines if they fail to put on a helmet this summer, according to the police. (CBC)

Saint John police will spend the summer enforcing a year-old bylaw that forces all skateboaders to wear helmets when they are in public.

The bylaw was passed almost a year ago but the city’s police say few skaters are actually following the law.

Saint John Police Sgt. Jay Henderson said the police have focused on educating people about the new law in the last year.

He said that will change this summer when officers begin cracking down on skateboarders who flout the rule.

"We'll be sending our mountain bike patrol down towards the skate park and the various city areas where skateboarding would be prevalent and anyone that will be seen without a helmet will be issued a bylaw ticket,” he said.

Jamie Comeau, 21, is one Saint John skateboarder who said he believes the bylaw is unnecessary.

"For me, I don't skate hard enough to find myself wearing a helmet. I just skate the streets, I just try to get from point A to point B,” Comeau said.

“So it's hard to do that when they are shoving a $150 ticket down our throats."

And Comeau said the threat of a ticket hasn't made much of a difference in the city’s skateboarding community.

“I haven't noticed anybody with a helmet on. Mostly kids are wearing them but anybody usually over the age of 18 isn't wearing one,” he said.

The push for a mandatory helmet law came following the death of Jason McKinnon. He crashed in Fundy National Park last year. He hit his head falling off his skateboard and was not wearing a helmet.

Saint John Coun. Greg Norton championed the helmet bylaw in the city. Norton said it’s important to take steps to protect those who may be vulnerable from any kind of accident,

"If they feel that they want to not wear a helmet and skateboard on their own private property, that's a choice they still have. But when it comes to city-owned property that’s paid for and funded by the tax payers ... then I believe this bylaw is certainly a reasonable one to implement,” he said.

Norton said the real change will have to be in the skateboarding culture itself.