Thanks to Rory for doing a great piece, see the full article below from the Oct 14th East End Observer:
King of the Kickflip
By Rory Barrs
Nick Pierre is either idolized or disregarded by the denizens of East York Skatepark.
Many of the skaters he’s mentored through camps or private lessons appreciate his avuncular presence at Toronto’s Stan Wadlow Park.
Others, who he has derided for littering, alarming tomfoolery – such as igniting a fire on the grounds – or recently destroying a railing, will disregard him as the type of overbearing parental figure they are trying to avoid when they come to skate or bike.
Pierre chastises the culprits for the same reason he befriends community members of all ages, whether they’re using the facility to harness their skills, or simply spending time with friends.
It’s because he truly cares.
“One of the biggest achievements for me, is seeing the community at this skatepark become what it is [now],” Pierre said. “I’m super passionate about skateboarding, and everything I do, I jump in with both feet.”
Without the 32-year-old patriarch, there would be no ramps, rails or bowls; the after-school hangout for countless youth wouldn’t exist.
It began as a hobby, crafting homemade skateboard videos to distribute around the neighborhood.
Advancing into local schoolyards, Pierre organized improv contests, quickly realizing there was a skateboarding community in East York that simply lacked cohesion.
By 2002, an assemblage of skaters, video producers, musicians and artists had officially formed Team East York (EY), a group dedicated to promoting a positive skateboarding environment.
Quickly, the films became more professional, debuting at launch events with several hundred people often in attendance.
And with the assistance of city councillors, Pierre was able to procure funding for a temporary skate facility at Greenwood Park.
But what Pierre was really seeking, was something more substantial and permanent.
Timing is everything, and luckily the city of Toronto had passed an initiative to expand the construction of skateparks, so funding was readily available.
Assisted by Coun. Janet Davis, $360,000 was secured for the project, and Pierre’s vision became a reality.
“We had all the kids in the community come into a workshop and draw all their favourite stuff,” said Pierre, who works as an employment counsellor for the province of Ontario. “We didn’t just build any old skatepark, we built the park the community wanted.”
The ribbon was cut on East York Skatepark in 2006, and it’s where you will find 14-year-olds Carter Douglas and Colton Sheehan, nearly every day after school.
“I just love having a skatepark around here,” Douglas said.
“It is our local park, where I landed my first tricks,” Sheehan added.
The Team EY model
Pierre’s involvement hardly ended with the opening of the park. The video arm of Team EY, now under the banner PEPstudios, holds 14 full length and over 100 short films in its vault.
Team EY also spawned a clothing line, I Love East York, with profits reinvested to cover the costs of film production. All Pierre’s efforts are not for profit.
Partnering with the city, he established an affordable skateboard camp, that’s now spearheaded by fellow Team EY member Everett MacLean.
Since 2006, MacLean has been programming for the park, and now is the owner and operator of the EY Skate Loft, an indoor facility for camps, lessons and winter drop-in skating.
“This year we had 140 athletes in our camp,” said MacLean, at the indoor park. “This is where we run a lot of our programs and do a lot of our events.”
Team EY isn’t just Pierre, MacLean or the handful of other instructors and event organizers who have been responsible for furthering community programs and facilities.
“To me it is more of a mentality or an attitude, rather than a group of individuals,” MacLean said. “It is everyone who contributes to the skateboarding community in East York.
“Whether it’s a five- or eight-year-old kid who’s at the park on a weekly basis, or a guy in his 40s who’s there all the time. They all contribute immensely.”
While Pierre admits he at times comes across as authoritarian, he maintains that his intentions are good.
His goal is for the local youth to appreciate the dedication and time commitment that went into establishing the skateboarding community that appears so vibrant today, but once was barren.
Through Team EY mentorship, Pierre and MacLean are trying to pass the torch to the younger generation.
In 2007, they were named City of Toronto Youth Group of the Year.
Spreading the wealth, the two long-time friends now act as consultants for Ontario municipalities looking to build their own parks and programs. The idea of forming an Ontario commission for the sport is also on their agenda.
“We consult with the Team EY model,” MacLean said. “Other communities lack the initiative to make a skateboarding park and the ambition and enthusiasm to see it through.”
If Pierre and MacLean can help other neighborhoods establish anything comparable to what they’ve accomplished in East York, then there won’t be many kids in Ontario without a place to land that first trick.