The Southwest Alberta Skateboard Society, composed of volunteers dedicated to promoting the growth of skateboarding in the southwest, has ramped up its efforts to have a new outdoor skatepark designed and built in Crowsnest Pass.
On Jan. 29, 2019, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass made the difficult decision to abruptly close the Albert Stella Memorial Arena, the site of the old indoor skatepark that was widely popular with the Pass skateboarding community.
The decision came after an engineering consultant retained by council submitted a structural analysis, citing numerous damages and deficiencies.
That same day, council announced in a press release that, after reviewing the report, the building was deemed unsafe and it was in the municipality’s best interests to close the arena to ensure the safety of staff and residents.
Prior to the closure, Crowsnest Pass had a thriving skateboard community that occupied the indoor skatepark on any given day. When the arena was unexpectedly closed, it meant this community had to travel to neighbouring towns to skateboard at their parks.
“There’s a lot of really good skateboarders in the Pass that need a local place to skateboard,” says Ian Gauthier, secretary and treasurer for SWASS and co-owner of Boarderline Skate Shop in Lethbridge.
“When it shut down, we started to regroup and refocus our energy on trying to do a big push to get an outdoor skateboard park.”
Since the fall of 2021, after initial delays resulting from the inability to meet during the Covid pandemic, Ian and his fellow volunteers have proceeded to get the outdoor skatepark project back on track.
This past year saw the group really up their efforts, hosting and attending various events and fundraising for the project. On top of their own fundraising efforts, SWASS has received support from the community as well.
Working with the municipality, SWASS was able to get approval on a future location, in Flumerfelt Park in Coleman, for the skatepark.
“We’re in a good spot with the community involvement. The city’s on board and the recreation department are as well, and we just want to push forward,” says Ian.
In December, after months of planning and preparation, SWASS and Pass Beer Co. announced the release of a new beer called the Pop Shuvit Pilsner, where a percentage of all sales would go towards the new skatepark.
Shortly after the release of the new beer, the Blairmore Lions club generously donated $10,000 to SWASS for the Crowsnest Pass skateboard park project.
The money raised by Pass Beer and the Lions club, along with the location approval, are huge stepping stones for SWASS as it moves forward with its plans.
“We’re in the process of raising money for Phase 1, which is raising enough money to get the full design budget done up by a reputable skateboard company, skatepark builder, and then from there, we can then apply for all the grants and kind of move forward with the city in getting it done,” says Ian.
Ultimately, SWASS is pushing to get a new park built with the kids of Crowsnest Pass in mind, even if it is a long and expensive undertaking.
“It’s not going to happen overnight. It typically takes years to fundraise the money required for a quality-design skatepark done by a professional company,” says Ron MacGarva, president of SWASS.
“With that said, though, it’s all about the kids. Everybody knows that kids need places and opportunities to step out and be physically active, and skateboarding is a great way of doing that.”
The group aims to meet at the end of the month to discuss further plans to fundraise, skatepark designs, and selection of the company that will assist with designs and budget.
The club is accepting donations for the skatepark, which can be e-transferred to SWASS here.