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Mat de Koning’s business Skate Sculpture is behind the award-winning Forrestfield skate-park, and he believes the City of Swan is lagging behind in skating facilities. Main picture by Jake Rotham.

Midland skate facilities under spotlight after accident

A grassroots campaign to establish a permanent skate-park in Midland is gaining momentum, with a leading designer on the verge of making his plans for the future of skating in the City of Swan public.

The campaign was triggered by a tragedy that occurred on February 26, when 12-year-old Zac Garnett was hit by a ute while crossing Roe Highway to visit a skate-park in Stratton.

He suffered severe injuries, including a badly broken pelvis, and remains in a wheelchair.

Jenice Latham’s son Justin was with Zac when the accident occurred, and Ms Latham said that she and her son were still coming to terms with what happened.

However she also holds the City of Swan responsible, due to the complete lack of skating facilities in the area.

“We’re on the waiting list to get someone to speak to Justin because he’s gone downhill since the accident, it’s more a mental problem now,” she said.

“As a parent I’m meant to protect my son and I shouldn’t have let him go across there on his own but also the fact that Midland doesn’t have any skating facilities, that’s the only reason he crossed Roe Highway.”

Midland had a removeable skating facility at the site of the old Midland youth centre, but when the youth centre was demolished the facility was assessed as being unsafe by the City and subsequently destroyed.

However a former Midland resident, Mat de Koning, has a plan for the City of Swan as a whole and Midland specifically, and he has teamed up with Ms Latham and Zac’s mother Nicole Marland in urging the City to act.

Mr de Koning is the co-founder of Skate Sculpture, the skate-park design and advocacy company behind the award-winning Forrestfield skate-park.

He worked with the City of Swan a year ago to develop a strategy for the future of skateboarding in the City of Swan, but says that most of the design work was not utilised by the City.

Now he plans to release that design work through a Facebook page Ms Marland and Ms Latham have established called City of Swan Skatepark Advocacy Group, also known as cissadvocacygroup.

“I think that with a grassroots campaign happening now to see a skatepark in Midland and more skate facilities in the City of
Swan, I want to know they’re doing it right, doing the strategy right,” he said.

“I’ve done a copious amount of work for the strategy that hasn’t necessarily been adopted. After talking with Jenice and Nicole, I’ve decided to make that information public to help this movement.

“I’ll be using that Facebook page to share the work I’ve done, the work Skate Sculpture has done, on the strategy and several videos I’ve made whilst conducting this project about long-term planning for skate facilities.

“I’m doing this to inform people and help get it in front of elected members to say this is the direction we need to be heading in. Unless that push is coming from the grass roots community, elected members aren’t going to make a big deal of it.

“This council, more than any almost in the metropolitan area, is far behind in what they’re doing for skate parks.”

Mr de Koning said he would be releasing Skate Sculpture’s design plans throughout April, while Ms Latham said she was working on a petition to present to the City of Swan in May, which after three days already has 200 signatures.

Echo News contacted the City of Swan for comment, however they were unable to reply before deadline.

Their response will be featured in next week’s edition of Echo News.

About Liam Ducey

Liam Ducey is an experienced journalist, having worked in print media in Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Port Hedland, Bunbury and across the metropolitan area, as well as online for several Fairfax Media mastheads. His reporting has seen him awarded the 2013 Clubs WA award for Best Club Media Story in 2013 and the Western Australian Football Commission Umpiring Media Award in 2014. On the weekend you can usually find him at Bells Rapids, taking a very reluctant dog for a walk on the Goat trail.

One comment

  1. History tells us that City of Swan couldn’t give a toss about the community.

    The only thing City of Swan is interested in is an obsession with the oval development. Unfortunately a majority of Councillors have been led by the nose to go along with this obsession.

    I am very critical of this council because it is ignoring repairs and maintenance of existing infrastructure, as well as not providing some fairly basic stuff like footpaths and street lights.

    Driving around parts of Midland is embarrassing, not much better than some 3rd world countries I have been to, and in fact some parts of those countries have looked far more attractive than some parts of greater midland and the Swan Valley.

    It’s about time the council stopped throwing MILLIONS at what I believe will never be finished, and do something for ratepayers.

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