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Jake Parker (left) and Doug Morrison (right) hope to open The Hub, the first indoor skatepark in the Halifax area in years, by the end of the month. (Jacob Moore/Acadia Broadcasting)

Halifax area gets first indoor skatepark since early 2000s

By Jacob Moore May 21, 2024 | 5:57 PM

Riding a skateboard downhill on his butt, Jake Parker was in love. At seven or eight years old, he didn’t know he was supposed to stand on a skateboard but it didn’t matter.

Eventually, he figured it out after he watched the 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon and saw Michelangelo skateboarding and then saw someone else standing on their board in his neighbourhood.

“It blew my mind. I was like, ‘Oh, you’re supposed to stand up on them,’” says Parker.

Although he tried, it was impossible to stay on the board.

“But, you know, it just started a never-ending learning quest on this beautiful plank of wood, this toy, wheeled board that I love so much.”

Even then, it took years to learn how to ollie, one of the introductory tricks for skateboarders, and another five to learn the kickflip.

First indoor park in years

That’s why Parker, 37, and Doug Morrison, 46, are building an indoor skatepark, the first in the Halifax area since the early 2000s.

Their goal is not only to give skaters a place to practice in the winter but to keep up with their growing skateboard lesson business.

They also want to create a hub for people to hangout, listen to live music, appreciate art and make friends, which gave them a name: The Hub.

They hope to open by the end of the month.

Jake Parker (left) and Doug Morrison (right) sit on a ramp they built in the warehouse where they’re building The Hub, an indoor skatepark. (Jacob Moore/Acadia Broadcasting)

Morrison — the greatest ramp builder of all time, according to Parker — often works on the site for more than 12 hours a day.

Morrison is also funding the entire project, including building materials and the building’s lease. He says some people are interested in donating money or supplies, but those haven’t been ironed out yet.

“Scariest thing I’ve ever done,” he says.

Skateboard lessons

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Morrison was building skateboard ramps, but afterwards, he didn’t want to “go back to a real job,” so he started teaching skateboard lessons again.

“That grew and grew to where I couldn’t handle any more people,” says Morrison.

Around the same time, Parker moved back to Halifax from Toronto. Both have been giving skateboard lessons on and off for more than a decade. They connected through a mutual friend and eventually co-founded Wild Things Skate, their skateboard lesson business, and it’s grown so much that they need this new space.

Their teaching styles compliment each other really well, they say. Morrison is the expert at teaching people how to use ramps, and Parker is more of a trick expert.

But they often work together to analyze what may be wrong with a student’s trick to help the student learn as best they can.

Morrison says he looks forward to how the level of skateboarding in Halifax and the Maritimes could change because of The Hub.

“Now we’ve got this facility that’s designed with progression in mind, where you can start small and work your way up,” says Morrison.

All ages welcome

When the indoor park opens, they plan to divide the days up with specific time slots for different age groups.

They also plan to have a variety of passes, one for the day, one for the season and some in between. They may also rent the park out to people for a few hours at a time.

Morrison says the community will show them what the schedule could be, if there’s a group of people who want to skate at a specific time, for example.

Skateboarding is more diverse now than ever with people of all ages skating., Parker says. Many more women and girls are joining the sport, compared to when he started out and the age groups are diversifying, too, with some seniors signing up for lessons, he says.

He’s been in a session with a six-year-old and a 60-year-old before.

“Where else could you go and hang out and have fun with a six-year-old and a 60-year-old?” he asks.

“Skateboarding is the fountain of youth, so it will keep you young.”