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Indoor skatepark looks for a new lease on life

By in Culture
A spectator faces the Lions Skatepark in Saskatoon as riders practice in the background on June 12, 2019.

A local recreational facility, the Saskatoon Indoor Skatepark, is known for its affordable skate lessons, dynamic live shows and a close-knit community. The park recently shut down due to an inability to afford rent at its current location. 

With Saskatoon covered in snow for most of the year, an indoor skatepark was a much needed saving grace to many local skaters. However, having to pay rent for 12 months a year when they were only busy for five of those wasn’t sustainable.  

The Sheaf sat down with a skatepark board member and University of Saskatchewan alumnus Conor Britton to discuss the importance of a facility like this. 

“It’s important to have some form of recreation, especially in the winter time. It’s really crucial to mental health, I think, just to be able to get out in the winter and be active… To feel like you’re still part of the community that you built,” Britton said. 

The skate community in Saskatoon has seen many iterations of indoor skateparks. Long-time skaters might even remember when there was an indoor skatepark that operated in the City Centre Church, with volunteers building and tearing down the entire park every night. 

Volunteers are still a crucial part of the skatepark. Being non-profit, the skatepark relies entirely on volunteers for its smooth running, along with various grants and monetary donations. Britton says the park is currently looking to the City of Saskatoon for guidance in these matters. 

“We’re interested in getting grants from [the city]… We’re also interested in looking at some properties that the city has that are underutilized right now… Maybe they don’t want us in that property, but maybe they could lead us in a direction that would be helpful to us,” Britton said. 

The park was also supported by local skate shop Ninetimes and the Saskatoon Skateboard Foundation, donating either money, time or both to the success of the skatepark.

Britton speaks to the importance of supporting local skate shops like Ninetimes, and how this ends up building the local scene. 

“Any shop that puts the money back into the community is so important because you won’t see that kind of return on the really big scale shops. The community shops are the ones that boost the community-oriented events,” Britton says. 

A biker comes into frame as a skater performs a trick in the background at Lions Skatepark in Saskatoon on June 12, 2019.

In the future, the park is looking to improve how they reach out for funding, make their funding incentives more appealing and switch up their business model in order to give the park a better foundation. However, they haven’t found a place to call home yet. 

“We’re just in the process of looking at lots of different places that are up for lease and just seeing what would be plausible… As of right now, we’re homeless. But we’ll find something.” 

Anyone looking to support the park or be involved in the community can look forward to a few upcoming events says Britton. 

“It’s one Sunday a month where we have these Slappy Sundays at [the] Black Cat Tavern and we watch skateboard videos, hangout out with skaters and different people from the community and play pinball… It’s an awesome time.” 

The park will continue running its summer skateparks outdoors, with Saturday Camps running every second Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting on June 15. Half camps, which are their regular camps split into two 2.5 hour classes, will be running on Mondays starting on June 10. More information can be found on their Facebook page.

Tomilola Ojo / Culture Editor

Photos: Victoria Becker / Photo Editor

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