BMX riders are making a return to the High Park area — but this time, the biggest controversy will likely be over who can pull off the biggest trick.
After a Native protest last spring essentially shut down the makeshift BMX ramps built on environmentally protected land, the city has decided to build a BMX park just south of High Park. The park will be built on the northwest corner of Lake Shore Boulevard West and Ellis Avenue, and stretch across to Colborne Lodge Drive.
“We hope to start construction in early fall of this year, with completion by the end of the year,” said Garth Armour, supervisor of natural environment and community programs with the City of Toronto.
The park was designed by Jay Hoots, who has been in the business for seven years. For him, this park has been a long time coming since he’s been working with City of Toronto for the last five years trying to find a good location.
“Then about a year and a half ago, maybe a year ago, Councillor [Sarah] Doucette saw some drawings that I had submitted years previous to that,” he said. “And then she initiated a conversation.”
While Hoots spoke highly of Doucette and the bureaucratic process, saying it felt like that of a small city, Doucette likewise appreciated Hoots’ efforts.
“What I love so much is he’s taken the input we received at the community meeting,” she said. “It’s the same as with Jamie Bell Playground — someone’s listened to the community, they’ve listened to the users and they’re going to make a dream a reality.”
It was one of the first issues she dealt with when she took office back in 2010, she said.
The location along Lakeshore Boulevard W. was already on her radar, as she was hoping to use it for an off-leash area. But when that was shot down, she took advantage of using it for the bike park.
Hoots also says he finds the location extraordinarily unique.
“It’s right in the middle of traffic,” he said, laughing. “Which I think is an awesome thing, because we’re inundated all day with commercials and advertisements to buy stuff, and you’re driving to work stuck in traffic and there’s a whole bunch of kids on bikes having fun.
“I think deep down inside we’re all kids when we’re on a bike no matter how old we are, and I hope that’s an advertisement to come and play.”
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