Beach skateboarders are claiming victory after being told that the city has found money to go ahead with the Ashbridges Bay Skate Park’s phase 2.
Ward 31 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon had a motion passed at a TTC meeting on Jan. 31 to divert funds earmarked for phase 2 of the Ashbridges Bay Skateboard Park towards unspecified community initiatives.
But users of the park were quickly up in arms when they heard of the decision, and soon organized a Facebook group, a city hall rally and a letter-writing campaign to the councillor.
Some, like skater Nicky Young, felt betrayed because they had spent time volunteering collecting signatures to get the park established, and then were not consulted on what they feel was a key decision.
“I felt pretty ripped off,” he said.
But now the rally has been cancelled and victory has been declared after McMahon announced that the project would still see completion.
“I am happy to say that we’ve found some new sources of support that will allow us to divert some of the TTC monies to other local community benefits,” the councillor wrote in a press release. “The construction tender should be ready to go out in the next few weeks.”
McMahon’s executive assistant Jane Farrow said the source for the new revenue is being worked out.
“It’s going to happen,” she said. “There’s support that was not known before that has fallen into place.”
McMahon explained in the statement that she diverted the funds because she was attempting to balance the needs of the skating community and the ward as a whole.
“Balancing the requests and demands of other local residents who are facing disruptions caused by the TTC Ashbridges Bay storage yard construction project is never easy,” she said.
To Young, there’s no doubt the stirring of public support for the park’s phase 2 helped spur the councillor’s decision.
But he humbly notes “All I did was create a Facebook page”.
The page had nearly 200 attendants to the planned rally with more than 1,000 invited.
Young hailed the decision as a positive one, saying the park will be more inclusive after phase 2 because the recessed bowl that it would add to the facility will accommodate those who specialize in transitional skating.
“This is just such a huge weight off my shoulders,” he said. “This means that all the dudes were supposed to be there the whole time but weren’t because they were neglected, can actually enjoy the park … People will come from all around the city.”
The diverted $275,000 was originally secured by the ward’s former councillor, Sandra Bussin, as part of a negotiation with the TTC that resulted in a community benefit being provided to the ward for the placement of the TTC’s light rail vehicle storage and maintenance facility at Leslie Street and Lakeshore Boulevard.
Editor’s Note: The February 2012 edition of the Beach-South Riverdale Town Crier went to press before the announcement about new funding for phase 2 was made and as such the article “Skaters have an axe to grind” indicates that phase 2 is still in jeopardy. This is no longer correct.
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