The N.S. town that was (supposedly) 'invaded by skateboards'

Avid skateboarders in a small Nova Scotia town were finding their favourite pastime was not welcomed by all in 1987.

In 1987, young skateboarders found Lunenburg residents disapproved of their favourite pastime

When skateboards 'invaded' Lunenburg, N.S.

35 years ago
Duration 1:17
In 1987, CBC's Midday reports on the tension between skateboarders and the wider community in Lunenburg, N.S.

"The quiet, seaside community of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, has quite a problem," Midday anchor Peter Downie told viewers. "It is being invaded by skateboarders and skateboards."

The so-called "invasion" he was referring to involved local teenagers and was allegedly taking place on the streets of Lunenburg, N.S., where some residents did not like what local skateboarders were up to — namely skateboarding.

"I think it's terrible the way they go down the streets," said resident Paul Wentzell, adding that the local skateboarders represented "a hazard to driving."

Other Lunenburg residents expressed concerns about a skateboarder getting struck by a car, or conversely, about pedestrians being struck by a skateboarder.

But the kids are alright

'The skateboarders say they're getting a bum rap'

35 years ago
Duration 0:20
In 1987, skateboarders in Lunenburg, N.S., say they aren't the problem that some claim they are.

For their part, the kids riding on skateboards felt confident about their ability to stay upright and in control when riding on their boards.

Young skateboarders are seen in Lunenburg, N.S., in November of 1987. (1st Edition/CBC Archives)

"Most of the people do not realize how much control we have with our skateboard," said a young skateboarder named Max Turton, who talked to CBC about the situation.

"It's just that there's so much variation in obstacles in the streets and we do use our skateboards as a means of transportation," he added.

CBC reported on 1st Edition — a program that ran a longer version of the report that aired on Midday — that police had seized Turton's skateboard the previous year, when he was using it on the street in front of his house.

"Police later admitted that, legally, they didn't have a leg to stand on, because skateboarders aren't covered under the Motor Vehicle Act," the CBC's Wendy Johnson reported. 

'I don't think this ramp is an answer'

Due to the tension over the skateboarding issue, however, Turton and his friends had pooled their money to build a ramp they could use on private property.

Off the streets and onto a ramp

35 years ago
Duration 0:50
Some skateboarders in Nova Scotia turned to building a ramp for themselves so they would have somewhere to skate.

Max Turton's mother, Mary Turton, told 1st Edition that she saw the ramp, which had been built on her property, as a temporary measure.

"I don't think this ramp is an answer ... I believe that they should have the access to the streets, we have no sidewalks in Lunenburg," she said.

CBC reported that the Town of Lunenburg was then looking at bringing in a bylaw to keep skateboarders off the street and also at the possibility of building a facility where they could use their skateboards.

Today, the town currently has a bylaw in place that bans the use of skateboards on sidewalks. The town does operate a skate park now, though.

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