Parks Canada slows longboarders raising money for cancer research
Push for the Cure says threat of fine stopped them skating Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Longboarders raising money for cancer research at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park this weekend are walking most of the way this year instead of skating.
That's because they were told by Parks Canada they could be faced with fines, equipment seizure and a possible arrest if they rode their boards through the park.
"We were met by two park rangers and two vehicles and they told us we weren't allowed," said Zacchary Paul, a downhill and long-distance skateboarder who also raises funds for Push for the Cure Cape Breton.
"They did compromise with us, though. They let us skate up the first mountain but after that we had to walk."
Longboarding is like skateboarding, except the board is longer.
Walking the park
Paul said he and the others walked the whole the way from the top of MacKenzie Mountain to Chéticamp.
The group was able to longboard through the park last year.
At that time, Paul said a park ranger told them they weren't allowed but turned a blind eye because it was a cancer fundraiser.
"We assumed they were going to have the same policy with us this year and that was obviously not the case," he said.
Compromising for 2020
Parks Canada told CBC News in an email on Friday that longboarding is prohibited in the national park unless authorized by the superintendent.
The reason has to do with safety and allowing other park visitors to have an enjoyable experience.
"Parks Canada supports the organizer's efforts to raise money and awareness for this important cause, and after discussions, the group was provided a safe escort through a section of the national park," Darlene Doucet, a spokesperson for Parks Canada, told CBC News.
Parks Canada "has also committed to discussing future events with the organizers," Doucet said.
Paul said the group is looking to work with Parks Canada next year.
"We want to make this event sanctioned and legal next year, so over the next year between now and then we're going to try and work with them," he said.
Paul said they're looking at the possibility of having an escort and road closures for the downhill portions of the journey.
Still having fun
Not being able to longboard has made for a longer journey through the park, but Paul said he and the others are still having a good time.
"This event is to raise awareness for cancer and cancer research. For 14 years we've raised over $1 million across Canada coast-to-coast doing this event and we really just want to get the word out
"For the people in the hospital who are having a bad day, they see these … guys pushing across, just pushing their guts out, and it gives them a little bit of hope that somebody is doing something for them."
The event ends Sunday and Paul said he expects they will know how much money they've raised by then.
With files from Brent Kelloway