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The secret SixSide skatepark is an homage to grassroots skate culture—but is its time up?

The question of what to do about the “rogue” park evades jurisdictional authority

SixSide skatepark. Photo: Sidney Coles / The Westshore

You’d think from the announcement of its official opening in May of 2023, that the 13,000-square-foot Thrifty Foods Skatepark was the only skate park in the Westshore since the Belmont park in Langford was demolished in 2015. Based on designs by New Line Skateparks, it features a street section, granite ledges, and a large bowl designed as a nod to the aesthetic and feel of an empty swimming pool. Moreover the bowl—a typical design element of skateparks everywhere—is a nod to the origin story of park skateboarding in North America.

According to urban myth and academic record, filling backyard pools was banned during a significant drought in southern California in the mid-1970s. The empty pools became playgrounds for freestyle skateboarders in the greater Los Angeles area. And so skateboarding culture, as it plays out today in the Westshore and beyond, was born.

But like so many other grassroots, indie, or non-mainstream initiatives, there is another—unofficial—skate park in the Westshore. A ‘secret skate park’ under the Six Mile Bridge in View Royal. This one was a DIY build by the local skating community, and the location was made popular by some of the most well-known names in park skating. The “renegade” park, once known as SixSide was built, beginning in 2009, piece by piece and in secret by locals.  

Andy Anderson, known in the skateboarding world for his unique style and technical tricks, visited the View Royal skatepark and recorded a YouTube video about it in 2019, calling it one of the coolest skateparks in the world. Anderson, originally from White Rock, competed and placed in the skateboarding world championships, Vans Park Series Americas Continental and competed in the 2021 Olympic Park qualifying event. 

The park was also featured in a video by Confusion International Skateboard Magazine. Confusion is an underground skateboarding magazine with a focus on skater-built skate spots and concrete skateparks all over the world. The Thrifty Foods Skatepark was heavily sponsored by its namesake. It also received funding from five separate municipalities. The breakdown of municipal contributions is as follows: City of Colwood $99,880, City of Langford $239,325, District of Highlands $16,785, District of Metchosin $36,130 and Town of View Royal $67,480. Funding from municipalities represented 36% of the total cost. The park’s ultimate price tag was $1.3M.

The SixSide had to depend on individual donations. In 2017, a GoFundMe page was set up by skater Mark Cambridge to continue its construction and to maintain its unique layout, unseen by pedestrians and drivers under the Six Mile Bridge. Comments under a Scout Magazine article on its earliest iteration, indicate that there were tensions, along the way, between trick bikers and boarders as to who ‘owned’ it and who could use it.  

Inside the ‘secret’ skatepark. Photo: Sidney Coles / The Westshore

Ownership and jurisdiction are a recurring tag for the park.

View Royal Mayor Sid Tobias told the Westshore in an email that, “Council and Staff of course have been aware of the skateboarding park under six mile park.” 

The park hasn’t gone unnoticed by local residents either. Sandy Bate, for example, emailed The Westshore saying she feels the skatepark’s tight concrete bowls and graffitied ramps are an environmental menace to the salmon creek ladder on Millstream Creek. Bate says she has brought the issue to the attention of the township and to MTO multiple times but told The Westshore they said the land under the bridge falls outside of their respective jurisdictions.

Since the park is unmonitored and DIY-built, it can also be relatively unsafe for many users. A visit on a weekday morning shows litter, empties and discarded clothes in the park and speaks to the rogue park’s potential need for an overhaul.

“We promote fitness and recreation in the Town of View Royal and always encourage folks to do so in a safe manner,” said Councillor Damian Kowalewich. “As Chairperson of the Westshore Parks and Recreation Society (serving View Royal and the Westshore), I am proud that that we recently built a world class skateboard park [Thrifty Foods Skatepark] that individuals from all walks of life can enjoy in a safe manner.”

Where the Thrifty Foods Skatepark is inclusive, flexible, exciting, and memorable for all ages and abilities, it’s clear that the secret park, with its small footprint, tight bowls and ramps was not built for beginners. Its location, under the bridge, isn’t family friendly by design. 

Though it represents a unique homage to grassroots skate culture in the region, the place, showing obvious signs of neglect, has seen better days.