An unidentified skater catches air off the big wall as he flies down the Saanich Skatewave circa 1979. (Photo courtesy Graham Peat/Calstreets.com)

Broken bones and buried parks: Stories of skateboarding’s beginning in Victoria and Vancouver

Part 2: Earliest skate parks were buried in Esquimalt, Saanich and West Vancouver

Part two of ‘Buried parks and broken bones,’ series about early skateboarding in Victoria and Vancouver

Legend has it, not only has the Saanich Skatewave sat buried underneath 20 feet of dirt in Cedar Hill Park for 27 years, there is also a buried skate park in Esquimalt and another in West Vancouver.

The province is full of early skateboard stories, and most of them are true.

Back when Tim Galavan and Bill Leininger constructed the Saanich Skatewave in 1978, they convinced the District of Saanich to lease them a nook of the Cedar Hill Park. Galavan still believes it was the first instance where Saanich had leased park land for private use, albeit for a recreational purpose.

READ MORE: Skateboarders set up in Cloverdale for world-renowned freestyle competition

So when the business failed in 1980, Saanich wasn’t ready to host its first skate park, which it did for the better part of three years. It was not an initiative of the Saanich parks and recreation department. When kids were partying there all night, they fenced it off. Even when Saanich purpose-built the Lambrick Park skateboard park in 1997 it created a bylaw just for it. (Saanich’s five-year Youth Development Strategy, published in 2016, currently recommends more skateboard parks.)

“One kid wiped out on his BMX, his face smashed into the handlebars, it was really ugly,” said Victoria resident Brad Carr, who worked at Skatewave during its operating years, and skated the bowl after the business shut down. “It was really good for BMX-ing, but they didn’t wear any protective gear.”

PART 1: At Christmas 1978, parents lined up to buy skateboards at the Saanich Skatewave

There were some other injuries, prompting Saanich to shut it down and bury it.

At the same time, a smaller snake run was buried right beside Esquimalt High, though it’s unclear why.

“It was a little snake run, not very steep, that ran down into a bowl,” said Bud Watt, an Oak Bay High grad who skated the Skatewave and the Esquimalt bowl. “It was pretty small.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

– Thank you to Graham Peat, Monty Little, Brad Carr, Craig Hall, Bud Watt and Steven Sandve for sharing their stories. Anyone with stories and memories they’d like to share about the Skatewave and other buried parks can email reporter@oakbaynews.com

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