The Montreal skate community has all the reasons to celebrate the rebuilding of its downtown skate plaza on the corner of De Lorimier and Maisonneuve. If you are aware of the plaza that was built there before, you know this $ 2.7 million project is a huge win for the city’s skate community.
photos: David Boots (@davidboots)
The old De Lorimier skatepark under the Jacques Cartier Bridge was the epitome of Montreal’s dark past when it comes to outdoor skateparks. Things have finally took a turn for the better in 2022 when the city decided to turn this once unskateable piece of thrash into a flawless granite street plaza. This time, with the help of real skaters. An access to one of the best street plazas in Canada, but also a statement, a proof that after all these years, the city finally understood that skateparks are only functional when built by or with the help of skaters.
WHY IT’S A BIG DEAL
Back in the 2000s, skate parks in Montreal were almost nonexistent. The few we had were really bad, had rough asphalt ground and were mostly made of prefab obstacles. When we heard the news that the city would build its first concrete skate plaza under the Jacques Cartier Bridge back in 2007, the skate community rejoiced. We all thought that this meant the end of the bad skateparks era. We were finally going to have something good to skate in the city! Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. We would only have to wait one more decade before finally being able to make a difference on the skatepark level.
Back in those days, Montreal was the only city in Canada that didn’t have a good outdoor concrete park. Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, etc. They all had great facilities to practice on. We truly were the last city in Canada to get a concrete skate park, but ours was just bad, very bad. Compared to the skate parks in other Canadian cities, skateboarders were not in the picture when it came to Montreal skate plaza’s design and build. A mistake that would cost the city hundreds of thousands for absolutely nothing. Over the next years, drug addicts and lurkers were the only people you could see at the skatepark. That’s what we call wasted money and space.
Even if it almost cost as much as the perfect Vancouver skate plaza, the old Skate Plaza on De Lorimier was not functional at all. The city hired architects and workers to design and build this plaza without the insight of the actual people who will later be using the place to practice. We even know that skaters tried to be involved in the process back then, but the Architects didn’t want to listen to them at all. This resulted in a park with a design that you just could not have fun skating at all. The obstacles were too high or too low, you couldn’t get good speed to hit them and every obstacle in the plaza landed at the same place. It felt like a concrete pit. Nothing you could actually have fun and progress on.
We only started to have legit concrete parks to skate a few years ago, meaning that It took years for the city to finally trust that skateboarders were needed in those situations. As for the skate plaza on the corner of De Lorimier and Maisonneuve, it took more than 15 years for the city to finally scrap the old place to welcome a new urban plaza, but this time, it will be totally different.
THE SKATERS BEHIND THE NEW URBAN PLAZA
We are more than happy that things have finally changed in Montreal and that today, the people who design and build skateparks are actual skaters. Papillon Skateparks, Rick Design Skateparks and Spin Works are a few examples. Skaters finally took over! For its design, the De Lorimier Plaza team hired two of the best skaters they could get: Charles Deschamps and David Bouthillier.
Charles Deschamps is one of Montreal’s best street skateboarders and is also an architecture technician with a dozen skateparks designs under his belt. He knows what’s good and to have him on the De Lorimier skate plaza’s team will for sure make a huge difference for all of us who will later be using the spot. He knows how to use the space properly, he knows how to make a ledge ideal for skating, he knows angles, needed speed, etc. He knows exactly what it takes to please his fellow boarders when it comes to skate obstacles.
David Bouthillier is a known Montreal street skater who did so much for our community over the past years. Dave is a Peace Park legend who produced the infamous Peace Park documentary and later made skateboarding fully legal at this iconic marble street plaza. His experience in marble and granit ledges is huge and his street knowledge made him the perfect person to initiate the project and to help the builders and Charles Deschamps to bring the De Lorimier Skate Plaza to a whole new level. He’s also the person who made sure that the street aspect of the new plaza would be as good as it gets so it’s not a skatepark, but a real multi-functional space.
With this iconic duo behind the 2.7 million dollars project, it’s easy to tell that we are in for a treat, a place that has nothing to do with the old and unusable skate Plaza and that skaters will finally be able to enjoy to the fullest.
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THE SKATE PLAZA
With a budget of more than 2.7 million dollars, and Charles Deschamps and Dave Boots on the committee, you can be sure that the new Montreal Skate Plaza will be amazing. The plaza is also a great reminder that despite not having decent outdoor skateparks for years, we learned the hard way in the streets on Montreal’s granite ledge spots.
To highlight the street background of Montreal skateboarders, the new Montreal plaza will mostly consist of smooth granite ledges. The major difference being that you will never get kicked out of the plaza for skating its ledges!
as you can see, there will be a vast flat area so you don’t feel stuck while skating. The complete opposite than the old park. The ground will be made in granite tiles and will be extra smooth. There will be flat ledges, small down ledges, a two blocks, a central manual pad and a bunch of different out ledges all around the place. Everything is low impact and made for technical skateboarding of all levels. The new plaza will be a real street spot that’s free to skate 7 days a week, 365 days a year!