Take Action: Toronto mountain bikers, Jay Hoots wants to hear from you

**Message from City of Toronto's Natural Environment Trails Program**

Hello mountain bikers and BMXers,

This is to inform you that City of Toronto staff have recently closed an informal BMX freestyle area (skills park) in High Park to restore an ecologically significant area. The site has been replanted, fenced off and is currently being monitored for any further cycling activity.

A new skills parks, offering technically challenging riding in an accessible and controlled environment, will be built on the site of the existing parking lot in the south east corner of High Park.

City staff are currently working with accomplished skills park designer, Jay Hoots www.hoots.ca, to develop the new site that will include appropriate off-road cycling features, skills areas and landscape amenities.

Please join Jay Hoots and City of Toronto staff on Wednesday, October 19 from 6:00-8:30pm, at the Rousseau Room, Swansea Town Hall, to participate in the design consultation for  the new skills park in High Park. Jay wants to hear from you.

Natural Environment Trails Program

www.toronto.ca/trails

IMBA-affiliate club Toronto Offroad Bicycling Association (TORBA) is also calling area riders to attend the consultation. Here's a message from TORBA:

TORBA has been working with Toronto BMX and City of Toronto to get a skills park to replace the loss of the old High Park BMX area this past summer.

City staff have now proposed a site (an existing parking lot in the south-east corner of the park) and have engaged well-known bike park designer, Jay Hoots www.hoots.ca, to develop a new park that will include off-road features, skills areas and landscape amenities.

We now need as many riders as possible to come to the design consultation meeting. It is important to show our support for a replacement skills park, and to have input into the design process. The park is not yet approved and needs strong backing from the cycling community to proceed. Even if you don't normally ride in this area, please attend the meeting to show your support - the success of this project will lead to more City-sanctioned skills parks and trails across Toronto. The City is currently working on its city-wide Trail Strategy, and it's important for riders to be included in the process. This skills park is one step along the way.

Whether you can attend the meeting or not, please send an email to the local councillor, Sarah Doucette, who so far has been very favourable to this project. If you can't type, even a quick phonecall to Councillor Doucette's office will help - they'll be pleased to hear from you, as they're supporting the proposal. And while you're at it, please let your local councillor know of your support as well.

Please note that there is opposition to this skills park. A small group of people who claim the site of the former BMX area is actually an ancient Native burial mound are strongly against the initiative. This group seems to be arguing that there should not be a skills park anywhere in High Park, and that the carpark is too close to the former site. TORBA's position is that we are very supportive of a new skills park, where-ever in High Park it may be situated; and that as the City has proposed this site and asked for input into the design, we will attend the meeting and participate. There is likely to be some vocal opposition at the meeting, and we ask you not to be drawn into argumentative debate.

Similarly, if you visit the Facebook event page for the meeting, you may see argumentative or insulting comments posted from opponents. We're moderating the page and deleting any comments (for or against the skills park) that are inflammatory or off-topic, but you may read them before we get to them. We apologize, but we want to keep the Facebook event page public. From time to time we've had to take it private to shut down comments; if you can't access the event page, please email us for an invite.

Photo courtesy of hoots.ca