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The "Big O" skateboard pipe reopens

08/19/2013 11:35 EDT | Updated 10/19/2013 05:12 EDT
An important landmark for Montreal's skateboarding community — the skate pipe known as the Big O — has officially re-opened at the Olympic Stadium after a two-year closure.

The 37-year-old concrete tunnel was closed in 2011 so it could be moved about 400 meters to make way for the expansion of the Saputo Soccer Stadium.

"We wanted to move it but we were hoping that through the process the Big O would remain intact, which was the case," said Richard Legendre, the executive vice-president of the Montreal Impact and Saputo Stadium.

Built in 1976, the skate pipe was originally an entrance into the Olympic Stadium. Since then, a group of skateboarders has pushed to keep the pipe as a public park.

"This is basically like a museum of the skateboard world," said Félix Fecteau-Gauthier, a member of the skateboarding group. "We really enjoy this thing because it relates from the skateboarders from the '70s to the new generation in 2013."

City parks unsafe, says skateboard activist

Some skateboarders say many of the 30 public skate parks in Montreal are badly maintained and badly designed.

David Bouthillier, a professional skateboarder and skateboard activist, says the parks are not challenging enough and some are actually unsafe.

"They're falling apart. The metal edges can become dangerous. They're just basically not well-maintained and when things are not well-maintained, equipment becomes used and they become dangerous for the kids," Bouthillier told CBC's Daybreak Montreal.

Because each Montreal borough is responsible for its own parks, Bouthiller says there are no city-wide standards to maintain high-quality infrastructure for skateboarders.

Bouthiller says there should be a Montreal skateboarding association to help advise boroughs on the design and maintenance of new skate parks, like those being built in Lachine and Verdun.

"They should find skateboarders who have a lot of experience using the parks and work with them to get their advice," he said.

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