“No Skateboarding Allowed”: Municipal Bylaws, Urban Common and Public Property, and the Regulation of “Undesirable” or “Disruptive Use"

35 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2023

See all articles by Sara Ross

Sara Ross

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law

Date Written: March 14, 2022


The mechanics of daily local inequality and marginalization can be readily observed within the language of local bylaws that govern urban spaces and places and their use — whether these govern the hours and types of use that can be made of local “public” parks, spaces where loitering is identified as unwelcome, or how and where certain activities can take place. While affinity spaces can be, on the one hand, welcomed and celebrated for the mentorship of youth, extracurricular activity, environmentally friendly transportation, or as a skill-building goal-oriented endeavour, the language of bylaws creates an ecosystem equally predisposed to prohibiting certain activities within the public spaces and common spaces of many cities. But how does this reality meet up with public policy efforts and documents that identify the importance of encouraging youth inclusion for more comprehensive denizen participation within urban dialogue and sustainable development? What about initiatives towards sustainable alternatives to urban transportation and commuting? The uses of space in the city for these communities are oftentimes equally welcome and unwelcome within official policy. This Article will approach these questions through an in-depth case study of local skateboarding communities, notably that of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Through the lens of affinity spaces, it will take up the relevant bylaws, municipal signage, provincial legislation, and police enforcement procedures regarding skateboarding. In doing so, the Article focuses on the lack of clear legislation, rules, and policies regarding skateboarding as a use of space in the city. These gaps are also a symptom of marginalizing treatment of certain kinds of spatial use in the city. Here the Article will examine these gaps within the different kinds of shared urban property found within the city — public, common, and quasi-public. The Article will also compare the treatment of bicycles and electric scooters to skateboarding within these same urban legal frameworks, examining where the grey areas and gaps have been filled in regarding the wearing of protective gear, such as helmets.

Keywords: Skatebooarding; Urban law; Inequality

JEL Classification: K10; K11

Suggested Citation

Ross, Sara, “No Skateboarding Allowed”: Municipal Bylaws, Urban Common and Public Property, and the Regulation of “Undesirable” or “Disruptive Use" (March 14, 2022). Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 50, No. 1, 2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4387821

Sara Ross (Contact Author)

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )

6061 University Avenue
6061 University Ave
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics