If you head down to the Valleycliffe tennis courts in McNaughton Park, nestled down in a shady spot beside the Stawamus River, you’ll often find a smattering of young skateboarders practicing their stunts and shredding across the surface.
Unique from the other skate sparks in Squamish, these courts have become a custom-designable environment, featuring mobile ramps that can be moved around like chess pieces.
The tarmac surface has been buckled by tree roots, and it’s rare that you’ll see anyone with a tennis racket there, but with an epic view of the Stawamus Chief above them, this has become one of the most popular skate spots in Squamish — particularly since pandemic restrictions ended.
That’s why a new non-profit called the Squamish Skateboard Association (SSA) has stepped in to campaign for the area to be re-designated as a permanent venue for these young skaters. They’re hosting a community barbecue there from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 5.
“When Valleycliffe first closed because of COVID-19, we loaded all our features and mobile ramps and drove around using them in car parks and places like that. Now that we’re allowed back, it’s occupied by 20 kids minimum every day when previously there wasn’t 20 in a week,” Alex Fowkes, vice chairman of the SSA, told The Squamish Chief.
“So our vision is to maintain that space while being respectful to the rest of the community.”
There’s been a surge of interest in skateboarding in recent years, and the SSA aspires to be inclusive of all genders and age groups. They’ve teamed up with the all-female group the Sister Shredders, and are hoping to offer events in partnership with the Indigenous Life Sports Academy.
“What I love about Squamish since moving here six years ago, is I have skateboarder friends that are 10 and I have other skateboarder friends that are 50. I don’t get exposure to that age range anywhere else. And now, since the Olympics in 2020, skateboarding is really taking off in this area,” said Fowkes.
Fowkes has just finished the brand design for the new non-profit, and the typography gives a subtle clue about the group’s aspirations for building a thriving skate community. It’s all about forward momentum.
“I’ve made everything italic, so the letters are being pushed forward. They’re leaning forward just like when you’re skateboarding. And it’s just that little hint that we’re trying to push forward plans. We’re leaning towards being progressive with everything that relates to skateboarding in this community.”
According to Shane Nunn, owner and operator of Stuntwood Skate Shop, interest in skateboarding has reached a fever pitch in the Sea to Sky area. Along with Fowkes and the other three members of the board, they have successfully capitalized on that by attracting donations from companies like Vans and Oakleys. That could go towards things like building and maintaining new mobile features. They believe that’s just the beginning.
“Squamish has had a solid skate scene since I moved here, but with more and more families moving to town, it’s just grown and grown,” he said. “We want to keep that momentum going.”
The June 5 event was made possible by a $500 Neighbourhood Small Grant from the Squamish Community Foundation
**Please note, this story has been corrected since we first posted it. Originally, the source provided a different donor's name and then realized the mistake.