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It may not be the safest way to get down the hills in Kamloops – if you’re looking for safe, take the bus – but more and more people are hopping on longboards to get from A to B these days.
Jon Wilson, the Community Safety and Enforcement Manager with the City of Kamloops, says that apart from the skateboard parks, the city is off-limits for skateboarders.
“It’s not the city’s position that it should be condoned anywhere where there’s going to be conflict with traffic,” he said.
“Anybody who is found skateboarding illegally in the city potentially can be fined and/or have their skateboard impounded.”
But this isn’t stopping the growing number of longboarders in the city. The Kamloops Longboarding Club – a local group that meets to roll and slide down the many steep roads in and around Kamloops – now boasts over 140 members on its Facebook page.
Basically, there are two types of riders: those that use their boards as a mode of transportation and those who ride for sport.
“We as a club don’t have too many issues [with bylaw], but a lot of our commuting members do – people travelling to school or to work have a lot of issues downtown, like boards getting stolen,” said Pat Mutrie, one of the founding members of the four-year-old club.
“The downtown core of Kamloops is not a very friendly place to ride. The places to ride are in the hills: Rose Hill, Juniper Ridge, Barnhartvale, upper Sa-hali if you’re careful you can get away with it.”
But the “unfriendliness” of Kamloops’ streets has not stopped people from buying their own longboards. According to Trevor Seaby, a sales associate at Oronge Board Shop, the number of longboard sales is on the rise.
“Everyday they’re coming in packs,” said Seaby. Boards cost around $200 for the basic models and another $100 gets you a helmet.
In fact, the Kamloops Longboarding Club will not allow anyone not wearing a helmet to ride with the group.
“I’m always willing to teach people,” said Mutrie, adding that the group is always open to new members.
Mutrie has begun brainstorming with local recreations officials over the possibility of a track or a race in the community.
“We don’t have a space to practice our sport. The city is amazing for longboarding, so if we could get an international race going, that would be great,” he said.
If you want to get out and take some turns with the club, you can find them on Facebook. But you better bring a helmet, and as Pat and his brother Evan Mutrie say, “wear a helmet, skate smart, skate safe, slide or die (literally) and always brush your teeth.”