Tennis courts

Skate night on the McNaughton Park tennis courts

Squamish Skateboard Association welcome event on June 5th.

If you head to the Valleycliffe Tennis Courts in McNaughton Park, nestled in a shady spot by the Stawamus River, you’ll often find a handful of young skaters practicing their stunts and shredding on the surface.

Unique from other skate sparks in Squamish, these courts have become a customizable environment, with movable ramps that can be moved around like chess pieces.

The tarmac surface has been warped by tree roots, and it’s rare you see anyone there with a tennis racket, but with an epic view of the Stawamus Chief above them, it’s become the one of Squamish’s most popular skate spots – especially since the end of pandemic restrictions.

That’s why a new non-profit organization called the Squamish Skateboard Association (SSA) has stepped in to campaign for the area to be redesignated as a permanent location for these young skaters. They are having a community barbecue there from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 5th.

“When Valleycliffe first closed due to COVID-19, we loaded up all of our mobile features and ramps and walked around using them in parking lots and places like that. Now that we are allowed to come back it is occupied by a minimum of 20 children each day whereas previously there were not 20 in a week,” SSA Vice President Alex Fowkes told Chief Squamiish.

“So our vision is to maintain that space while respecting the rest of the community.”

There has been a resurgence of interest in skateboarding in recent years, and SSA aspires to include all genders and age groups. They have teamed up with all-female group The Sister Shredders and hope to offer events in partnership with the Indigenous Life Sports Academy.

“What I love about Squamish since I moved here six years ago is that I have skater friends who are 10 and other skater friends who are 50. I am not exposed to this age range anywhere else. And now, since the 2020 Olympics, skateboarding is really taking off in this area,” Fowkes said.

Fowkes has just finished designing the brand for the new nonprofit, and the typography gives a subtle hint at the group’s aspirations to create a thriving skate community. It’s all about forward momentum.

“I’ve italicized everything so the letters are forward. They lean forward like when you’re skateboarding. And it’s just that little hint that we’re trying to push the plans forward. We’re leaning to be progressive with all things skateboarding in this community.

According to Shane Nunn, owner and operator of Stuntwood Skate Shop, interest in skateboarding has peaked in the Sea to Sky area. Along with Fowkes and the other three board members, they managed to capitalize on this by attracting donations from companies like Vans and Oakleys. This could go towards things like creating and maintaining new mobile features. They believe this is just the beginning.

“Squamish has had a strong skate scene since I moved here, but with more and more families moving into town, it’s only growing and growing,” he said. “We want to continue this momentum.”

The June 5 event was made possible by a $500 grant from the Squamish Volunteer Center Society.

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