PLAY: SUMMER 2021
Oceanfront Access for the
by Nikki Layton
Rendering of a proposed art installation and oceanfront community park.
Living in the Sea to Sky Country means a lot of different things to different people, but for many of us, it means being connected to the ocean - connected to the power of nature for our physical and mental health.
Although nestled at the end of Howe Sound and surrounded by water, Squamish, surprisingly, has very limited ocean access. All together there’s approximately 260 meters of safe, accessible oceanfront available for people that want to enter the sea. And the community’s about to lose approximately 50 percent of that with the removal of access to the Squamish Spit.
The Squamish Spit is proposed to be removed.
There are very few places in the world where wind, water, and land merge to provide a flawless environment for both wind- and kitesurfing. The Squamish Spit is one of them. But there is more to this world-class watersports location. People are out there year-round enjoying activities such as yoga, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, bird watching, nature photography, weddings, and tourists visit the spot to take in the scenery.
A group of concerned citizens - under the banner of realignnotremove.ca - has developed a conceptual alternative access to this oceanfront. Working with Xwalacktun, a local indigenous artist, they have designed a piece of indigenous land art that doubles as a park.
Squamish Nation Xwalacktun's vision of a salmon land art installation & community park.
The idea is to create a holistic oceanfront park that will become a focal point in Squamish. It would celebrate our connection to the ocean and the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) peoples that were here before us. The goal is to develop an area that is optimized for windsport users, but also for tourists, residents, and other recreation users. It aims to achieve this while also meeting the needs for the ongoing initiatives to help salmon restoration.
Every great idea has its challenges and this is no different. While we don’t have all the answers yet, we believe we can find a solution for the community - if we all work together.
The District of Squamish stated in their most recent Parks and Recreation Master Plan that “Water-based recreation opportunities in Squamish are second to none when it comes to windsurfing and kiteboarding. Squamish is one of the best places in North America for these sports, and consequently water access, specifically recreational use of “the Spit”, is important.” They also recommended to “Explore the benefits of designating the Spit and Training Dike as a park.”
This is an opportunity to create something that will be here for future generations, designed by Xwalacktun, whose family was here for generations before us. It’s an idea that reconnects the past and the future in a way that celebrates the power of Mother Nature, the wind that is part of Squamish life, the ocean, and all of her creatures while remembering the heritage of this unceded territory.
To learn more about this project, how you can get involved, and how to share your thoughts with the District of Squamish and other stakeholders visit the website www.realignnotremove.ca