Kitsilano: Longboarder Labs take the long view

Sport growing in popularity despite the risk of fines


Longboarder Labs will co-host the Khats-Jam skate show with local manufacturer Landyachtz at the Khatsahlano Music and Arts Festival. A block on West Fourth Ave will be shut down for a demonstration by Landyachtz’s skate team, and a safety session that will show novice skaters how to ride responsibly.

Longboard Labs co-owner Graham Peat said he chose the West Fourth location for the longboard shop because of its reputation as one of Canada’s most concentrated blocks of outdoor sports shops — which he refers to as “sports row.” Peat has been living in Kitsilano for 30 years and said he appreciates the neighbourhood’s “unique and boutique” feel, which he admits has been on the decline over the past decade.

“As much as we like to think West Fourth is full of character and small shops, it’s gone to the chain stores,” Peat said. “I hope we can contribute to bringing it back. Kits still has a lot of personality left.”

While longboarding has steadily grown over the past decade, it recently exploded in popularity. Traditionally seen as a niche for mostly adult skateboarders, longboarding has carved its way into the extreme sports pantheon and caught the attention of many teenagers and twentysomethings. Peat believes that this has resulted in many inexperienced riders wanting to cruise the streets before learning how to engage traffic, but an outright board ban would only increase the problem.

“The more you make riders into outlaws, the more they’ll enjoy it,” Peat said. “The police don’t want to chase kids to give them tickets, they want to prevent incidents with vehicles. The same thing that happened with bikes needs to happen with longboards. It’s not just about ripping down hills, a lot of people buy them for pleasure or commuting now.”

Despite being popular in Vancouver and especially in demographically younger neighbourhoods like Kitsilano, city regulations have forced many boarders to seek refuge across Burrard Inlet.

While longboarding on the streets of Vancouver can result in a fine, North Vancouver contains many streets where longboarding is allowed. West Vancouver has similar laws as Vancouver, but Peat said they are rarely enforced.

Vancouver has long served as the headquarters of two of Canada’s largest longboard manufacturers, Landyachtz and Rayne Longboards, and is the home of many enthusiasts, yet Longboard Labs is only the city’s second retailer.

“It’s an anomaly, every other city — Calgary, Portland, Seattle, have all set up shop. We have two of the biggest manufacturers in Vancouver, so it doesn’t make sense that people should have to go online to buy boards. We were originally going to operate online, but we felt that Vancouver needed it’s own store.”

Drew_McLachlan@hotmail.com

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