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Public meeting debates Centennial Park's coming BMX track

There was a priest at my college, Fr. Findlay, who once told me, a wry grin on his face: “All change is from the devil.”

It’s not an unpopular sentiment in Toronto, it seems.

The latest instance of it came at a recent public meeting on the subject of the new BMX tracks already being put up in Etobicoke’s Centennial Park. Part of the PanAm/Parapan Games, the tracks will be available for use by the public once the games are done.

The public meeting was meant to be informational rather than consultational; construction on the project is already under way. But the 15 to 20 people who showed up were still grumpy.

“It was largely attended by those folks who were never so supportive of the project from the outset, including the former councillor Doug Holyday,” says Catherine Meade, director of the PanAm/Parapan Games capital project.

In addition to concerns about the park’s environmental impact (though the project passed the usual environmental assessment process and got approval from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority), and the difference between the initial cost estimates and the final budget (the initial budget was for a temporary track built in a parking lot; the final project is for one that will last for several decades), people at the meeting were also worried about the increase in the use of the park that the tracks might inspire.

Others, perhaps among those who did not attend, may think more people using the city’s parks could be a good thing.

The presentation of the work that’s been done — work started at the end of August — and what’s yet to happen was made by architect Roman Mychajlowycz, principal at KMA Architects. Brendan Arnold, the Ontario Cycling Association’s BMX development coach, spoke about the impact of building tracks like this on the sport in the province, including the OCA’s plans to use it themselves for training.

The facility, which will include two tracks, one with a 5-metre ramp open to the public, and one with an 8-metre ramp meant for training and professional use, will be finished by spring.

The PanAm/ParaPan Games are being held in the GTA July 10-26 and Aug. 7-15, 2015.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Catherine Meade
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