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Letters: Reflecting on the Squamish Spit

The Squamish Chief recently asked readers for their thoughts on the Spit dismantling and what we may have missed in our recent story on the issue. Here are some of the letters we received.
The Squamish Spit.
The Squamish Chief recently asked readers for their thoughts on the Spit dismantling and what we may have missed in our recent story on the issue. Here are some of the letters we received.

How losing the Spit will impact me

I’m writing to you regarding the Squamish Spit removal and how it will impact me, my fellow kiteboarding friends, the entire community of Squamish, and adventure sports in B.C. as a whole.

My name is Lauren Holman, I’m 24 years old, and I’m originally from Ontario. I moved out to British Columbia back in 2014 to attend UBC. I have been kiteboarding since I was 13, and the sport has always been a central part of our family and a best friend of mine throughout my very formative years growing up. I selected UBC because it was out here, and I knew about Squamish. I dreamed of going to the Spit on weekends after a long week at school to kite with all of my friends, and I made that dream a reality.

Since then, I have graduated from UBC and found work in Squamish to be closer to the beloved Spit and kiteboard after work. I spend most of my free time involved with the sport one way or another, whether I’m on the water, working on my gear, creating content for my sponsors, or just chatting with friends over beers about our session.

I am sponsored by Cabrinha Kiteboarding. I have won the national competition Kite Clash, which is hosted here in Squamish, three years in a row. I can tell you that there is no better place in Canada to do this sport.

In the words of kiter Sam Medysky:

“Losing the Spit will be an incomprehensible loss to our community and a loss for the sport. Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh)... hardwired for adventure, Canada’s outdoor recreation capital. Is this what it’s come to? Let’s work towards a common goal that respects the salmon and other animals that live in these waters as well as all the people that recreate on, in, and near.

To be clear, this is not fish versus kiteboarder; we are in full support of the restoration project to improve the salmon stocks and habitat. Instead, we are fighting for a mutual resolution that includes maintaining access to the spit for all users.”

Lauren Holman


On our precious Estuary

As all this development proceeds, we need to revisit the dynamic nature of estuaries. Many do not realize that they need freedom to grow. Soon, our estuary as it now is will cease to be. It will become woodland or — dare I say it — more condos.

There is much talk of realigning the Spit. Then there is the Squamish Terminals: Continual dredging is needed for berthing ships and loading them. Estuarine growth is continually cut off.

The only real solution is to copy the Roberts Bank and Tsawwassen ferry dock models: extend the loading facility out at the end of a pier ( on pilings or floating ), keep the existing storage facility as is (no dredging needed) and allow the estuary to grow out behind it, which it is want to do right now.

The Fraser Estuary is not threatened in the manner ours is. Go back hundreds of years, and you will find our way back to Brackendale! Squamish as we see it now was built on old estuarine land. Let us not lose it in the way we are now allowing things to proceed!

Dave Colwell


Can’t we get a win-win?

Why can’t we restore the estuary/chinook habitat and create realistic access to the oceanfront for wind sports activities and the Squamish community?

Our windsports community is fully supportive of the restoration of the estuary and chinook populations.

If removing sections of the Spit is the best way to do that, then I am supportive of that.

But with the Nexan Beach (now called Sp’akw’us Feather Park) area turning into a community of homes and businesses, how will residents and tourists access the oceanfront?

How will windsports access a section of the oceanfront with wind?

The plans from the District and the oceanfront development haven’t provided realistic oceanfront access for the community.

There are two primary issues with the proposed access in the new Oceanfront Squamish development if the Spit is removed:

1. The design of the new waterfront development at Oceanfront Squamish does include a lovely beach.

The problem is the beach is behind (downwind) of the condos. Meaning there won’t be any wind, and wind sports folks won’t be able to launch there without drifting into the shipping lane in the Blind Channel.

This will result in windsports enthusiasts launching from riskier spots because they have access to wind, causing the number of calls to search and rescue, the coast guard, the terminals, and emergency services to increase.  

2. With only 50 parking spots for the entirety of the Squamish community to access the designated waterfront areas of the new development, how realistic is it that we will be able to get a spot? We see upwards of 300 windsports enthusiasts per day in our busy season. Fifty parking sports seems shortsighted given how many different community groups use the oceanfront area as a launch spot: kayakers, SUPers, open water swimmers, wind sports, and more.

Since the change away from realigning the Spit, there have been few stakeholder discussions on alternative locations for accessing the oceanfront and wind.

Some potential solutions could be:

- Constructing a boardwalk the 300 metres out to the remaining Spit-island;

- Shifting the new Oceanfront Squamish beach to in front of (south of) housing;

- Providing access at another spot, including the small beach just north on the west side of the Squamish Terminals;

- Fully evaluating the realignment of the Spit Road to access from Third Ave.

As a member of the wind sports community and a local resident, all I want to see is a reasonable plan for usable oceanfront access for the entire community — including windsports enthusiasts.

Sean Galla
Former board member of the Squamish Windsports Society

Editor’s note: While there will be 50 dedicated spots at the beach area of  Sp’akw’us Feather Park, there will be thousands of parking spots throughout the development, according to Oceanfront Squamish.

Don’t let us lose the Spit

The Squamish Spit, a world-class windsports destination and one of the recreational pillars of our town, is at risk of being lost forever.

Many things make ‘the Spit’ unique and truly special: the famously steady wind created as air rushes up the Howe Sound from Vancouver to Lillooet on a sunny day; the ease of access allowing spectators from across the world to get up close and personal with the action like nowhere else; the vibrant community of passionate people, enjoying the sport they love; the view from the water with the golden backdrop of the Stawamus Chief as the sun begins to set.

The current plan calls for removal of 300 metres of dirt and rock, commencing in October.

This plan is shortsighted, recklessly moving forward. The end-goal of the estuary restoration project is noble, important, and achievable, however, the current path to that goal is self-serving, disingenuous, and is squandering a golden opportunity.

The core of what makes Squamish “Hardwired for Adventure” is the access to so many world-class nature-based pastimes, including our internationally recognized windsports destination.

The Canadian National Kiteboarding Championships have long been hosted at the Spit with good reason.

Giving up access to our one-of-a-kind location would be a huge loss to the Squamish community, and the Sea to Sky as a whole.

Squamish should be embracing its adventurous identity, not rejecting it.

A better path forward is to pause the current removal plan and request an extension to the looming funding deadlines.

Give all interested parties and the Squamish community some time to work together to build our natural playground into something truly special.

This will not be easy, but it is absolutely worth the effort to preserve ocean access, rehabilitate natural habitat, and protect vital infrastructure.

Nik Ganderton