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'This place is for everybody': Winnipeg's new indoor skatepark opens at Portage Place

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A new, fully-inclusive indoor skatepark is now open in downtown Winnipeg.

Pitikwe Skatepark held its grand opening Friday, Oct. 27, welcoming skateboarders, scooter riders and BMXers from across the city. The space was created through the efforts of the Manitoba Skateboarding Commission, which formed late last year after LGBTQ2S+ materials were banned at Winnipeg's only indoor skatepark at the time.

"We want this skatepark to be a safe place for anybody to come, at any time," said Pitikwe Skatepark manager Bryce Anderson.

Anderson said the skatepark's name comes from the Cree word for "come in."

"So basically we want our whole community to come in," he said. "You're welcome, this place is for everybody. We strive for inclusivity and acceptance of everybody."

The city's skateboarding community was stunned last November when The Edge indoor skatepark, run by Youth for Christ, would not allow a LGBTQ2S+ zine to be distributed on site.

Anderson said that incident drove a lot of people away from The Edge.

"They weren't inclusive to some members of our community so that really turned the city off from them," he said.

Pitikwe Skatepark fills the former retail space left behind by Staples at Portage Place. The park features a full mini-ramp, along with several quarter pipes, and a pyramid-like structure with a long rail known as a "battleship."

"That's huge for the BMXers," said Anderson. "We try to make it as diverse as possible for everybody."

The park opened its doors at 4:30 p.m. Friday with a free skate session for anyone in the community to enjoy, as well as free food and live music. Anderson said the park's regular operating hours will be Monday - Friday, from 4 – 10 p.m.

Admission is $5 for participants under 25 years old, and $10 for those 25 and older. The space will also be available for group rentals on weekends.

Anderson said it's been an amazing project to work on.

"Everyone involved has really put in some crazy hours, the community has really come together," he said. "Crazy amount of determination and skill put into everything,"

Anderson said youth from the neighbourhood even came in to help decorate the park, gracing the walls with works of art during community art days held over the last few months.

He says they've already had a few organizations reaching out about teaching lessons at the park, something Anderson said is definitely on their radar.

"We want to offer some programming, teach kids how to skate, teach kids how to BMX, teach kids how to scooter," said Anderson.

The park is looking for donors to help cover the cost of safety equipment such as helmets and pads. Anderson said everyone is just excited to have a safe and inclusive space to skate.

"We're going to work with a lot of community members to try and make things happen," he said. "The sky is the limit at this point."

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