Skip to content

Equestrians hope Squamish can remain horse-friendly

With fewer dedicated properties, those that remain need to be protected, says SVEA president.

The odd rumble of a truck going by is the only hint that the property at 1995 Centennial Way is near downtown Squamish. There are 18 horses — some in paddocks, others in the stables and others being ridden — on the two-hectare (five-acre) property.

It feels rural but is just blocks from Brennan Park Recreation Centre. 

Jordan Wong, president of the non-profit Squamish Valley Equestrian Association (SVEA), steers her five-year-old show horse Kenny out of a paddock and onto the dirt road on the property. 

Coach and trainer Wong wears many hats in the Squamish equestrian world. She took over as president of the association in January. She is also the manager of Centennial Stables, a private horse boarding and training stables on which the property sits. 

Her company Platinum Equestrian is also based on the same property. 

Wong said there is concern among the equestrian community in town as more and more land that used to be home to horses is being bought up and converted to other uses. 

“My main concern is that we would eventually get pushed out of this area entirely horses-wise,” she said. 

The SVEA grounds next to Brennan Park operate through yearly District-issued occupancy permits.

“Our concern is that if the community, especially with a new developer coming in, decides that they don’t want to see horses around here anymore, the District can yank the occupancy permits. And that would be so tragic,” Wong said.

Indoor riding ring

The association is hoping for a long-term lease with the District not just for the security of its future but because members are chomping at the bit — so to speak — to put up an indoor riding arena on the SVEA property. 

A few years ago, when Howe Sound Stables sold, the association acquired its 72’ x 120’ indoor riding ring. It has been in storage ever since. 

Wong said the club needs to erect it with a foundation and add lights, which will cost about $80,000. 

The association previously received a grant for the project but had to give the funds back because the ring can’t be put up until a long-term lease is in hand. 

The association is currently fundraising and looking for sponsors for the project. It hopes things can be sorted out with the District by late summer, so the ring can be up for next winter. 

“The District has given us their support that they really do want us to put it up — without their help or their funding, which is fine. We are willing to do that. We’re going to put the work in, but we need them to put everything through so we can actually get our lease and then put it up," Wong said.

Without an indoor ring in the area, lessons and training are seasonal, meaning fewer opportunities for locals to ride than there could be.

Not horsing around

The District of Squamish says it understands it has been a while — February — since the municipality received the lease request from the association but stressed that the horse community is being considered in future plans.  

"The future of equestrian sports is very much captured in the Brennan Park Fields and Lands Master Plan, and District staff have been working in the background to systematically address existing leases and review new requests," said District spokesperson Rachel Boguski in an emailed statement to The Squamish Chief. 

"The delay is a reflection of workload and not a reflection of the District’s commitment to the Equestrian Association or the master plan. Work is underway to connect with all user groups within the Brennan Park fields and lands, and we look forward to meeting with the Equestrian Association in the coming weeks to help advance their proposal within the context of the plan."

For the love of horses

Wong said she thinks most people who live in Squamish do like the fact there are still horses in town and that the association has its spot on Loggers Lane, but maybe those supportive messages are not heard loud and clear at municipal hall. 

When riders are out and about, excited locals do approach, often with young kids, to ask about the horses or to pet them, said Wong. But, she noted, human nature is for folks to issue complaints rather than praise on social media.

According to the District, as of May 3, the muni's Bylaw Enforcement Department has received six horse-related complaints so far this year. 

Ideally, Wong would like to see Squamish become like the Southlands community of Vancouver where all things horses co-exist in the urban centre.

There are about 300 horses on approximately 100 properties in that area, according to the Southlands' website.

“They started centred around horses and that’s the big appeal of being down there,” Wong said. 

“You drive down the road and you see horses, and the Southlands Riding Club is right there. So I think that we can take a really good example from them with this community.”

Part of why people move to and stay in Squamish is for the still small-town rural feel, and if that goes, part of Squamish’s charm would be diminished, she said. 

“If we lose this, then we really truly are North Vancouver,” she said, adding that North Van used to have more properties with horses, such as when her mom grew up there, but now they are few and far between. 

“That’d be tragic that happened here,” she said. 

As part of raising awareness, Wong said the association would be hosting more public events so locals can come out and see what is happening within the equestrian community in town. 

“We have so much talent in this area. In this barn alone, I have five, or six kids who are stunningly talented. And this year, when we go to shows, they are going to do really, really well. It would be nice to be able to show that off to the community as well.”

She also noted that if there were another wildfire in the Squamish Valley, the horses there would be brought to the SVEA grounds. It is an important central location, she noted.

Wong encourages anyone who likes seeing the horses around Squamish to let the District know and if you see a horse and rider, snap a photo, post it to social media and tag @svea_ridingclub

Find out more about the association by going to their Facebook page or website.


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks