Calgary Has Entered the 21st Century, Having Lifted a Ban on Backyard Skateboarding

The city thought the kids were too damn loud.

Alberta, often dubbed Texas North, is typically regarded as a freedom loving place—Albertans cherish their oil and trucks and they don't give a shit what everyone else thinks.

So it comes as somewhat of a surprise that Calgary has for the past 30 years banned a relatively benign sporting activity—backyard skateboarding. According to the Calgary Herald, the city outlawed backyard skateboard ramps in the 80s, not because of safety concerns, but because the sound a skateboard makes going down a ramp is too damn loud.

At city council this week, the draconian rule was overturned, allowing wannabe Tony Hawks to practise their tricks in the privacy of their own yards. But the shift was met with resistance from officials who apparently think all hell will break loose if people have to deal with the sound of polyurethane wheels on a wooden structure. (Yet blasting bro-country music isn't an issue? Whatevs.)

"The clanging, it can put you over the edge. That's really what most people are talking about. The noise is a different type of noise. It's a rhythmic noise," said Councillor Ward Sutherland, while fellow Councillor Andre Chabot, who admitted his own daughter skateboarded to get around the city for years, said lifting the ban would "exasperate things."

"I can't support this, though I certainly appreciate the intent."

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, the world's greatest mayor and often a voice of reason, told council he doesn't understand what the fuss is about.

"To assume that one kind of activity is different than another kind of activity is over-regulation in the extreme."

In the interest of doing its due diligence, the city actually commissioned a report comparing the noise of skateboards going down a ramp to other sounds. It found that in terms of decibels, the dreaded "clanging" is about on par with the sound of a human being speaking. If only there was a ban on that, we might not have to waste taxpayer money on debates like this.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.