EDITORIAL: Keep the skatepark cool

 

Editor's note: The Chief's weekly editorial represents the opinion of the newspaper.

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It is Saturday evening, the sun is beginning to set, and the Squamish Skatepark is alive.

Almost every demographic is represented; there are young riders and older riders. While the majority are men, women and girls make up at least a third of this group. Most are on skateboards, of course, but some are on bikes.

Others are taking a break and chatting with friends around the edge of the park. Some just showed up to watch and they squat or swing their legs into the aquamarine skate bowl.

It is noisy, with the thump, thump bass of a rock song belting out from someone’s car stereo serving as a soundtrack to the tricks being tried.

Cheers and awes go up intermittently as riders complete a new skill or fall trying.

As it gets darker and the lights go on overhead, a few older youth gather and smoke or vape off in one corner and occasionally a can that is not soda appears in an adult’s hand along the periphery.

But the overwhelming vibe of this evening and this place most days and nights is of a family — a rag-tag family of athletes who bond in the bowl and outside of it.

It is a happy, positive, family-oriented place to be.

With development, the forested area adjacent to the skatepark will be populated with residents, where there were none.

[The much-needed Buckley Avenue affordable housing project is slated for this area, but has yet to pass final approval.]

Affordable housing is needed downtown so should be welcomed here, but hopefully, those who move in will appreciate that the skatepark, (and the high school) were there first.

Young people in our community need places they can go and let loose. They need their tribe, and the skatepark provides that. For young skateboarders, the park is a great and safe place to be mentored and to feel less restricted than in school or work. Adults sometimes tire of adulating and want to hang and practice the moves they learned as fearless and free teens.

With anxiety over Squamish changing, we seem to have become somewhat more of a hostile and less tolerant place than the Squamish of old.

This is a shame. If new people move in and start wanting to quash the noise or police the activity at the park, something real and important will be lost.

So, if you are hoping to move into any housing that is built near the park, respect its importance.

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