One Step Closer to a Bike Park in Torontoby Jason Murray
The Friday before the Thanksgiving weekend I attended a meeting of the Community Development and Recreation Committee of the City of Toronto. I was asked to attend because I was consulted for my input on the BMX Go Forward Strategy.
“Hold up there Jason, what’s BMX got to do with Mountain Biking?” Glad you asked. You see originally there was a BMX Go Forward strategy, but sometime last year it was brought forward to the Cycling Committee. There a number of people spoke in support of it, but a few highlighted that it had large gaps, namely it doesn’t address mountain biking in the City, whether on natural surface trails or at bike parks. So the City asked some of it’s strategic planners to look into the matter. I met one of those planners the Toronto Bike Show this past March. We had a number of fruitful discussions. Naturally he consulted with others, within the BMX community and MTB community. And the end result was the revised BMX Go Forward Strategy, which you can read here. It includes not only the actual strategy but the background and history as well.
I, like all the other speakers, was given 5 minutes to speak. Here is pretty much what I said.
IMBA supports the initiative the City is taking to broaden the original scope of this report to include mountain bikers, both those who would use skills parks and those who use natural surface trails. We support and endorse the report with one small reservation.
The report repeatedly uses the term BMX/MTB to refer to how facilities should be designed and designated for use by both communities. This is most likely a way to ensure readability of the report. Continually drawing a distinction between BMX and MTB in the report would get tedious in quick order. But when the rubber hits the dirt the distinction must be made. BMX and MTB are not simply two aspects of one sport, but two distinct sports with individual cultures, communities and needs.
As long as the distinctiveness of MTB as a sport and recreational activity, separate from BMX, is recognized and acknowledged we are confident that the City can take the right path. This can most easily be achieved with the kind of community consultation that was conducted for the Crothers Woods Trail Strategy; an approach that was both inclusive and comprehensive. This would ensure maximum community buy-in, and result in a successful start to a broader strategy that sees bike parks and natural surface trails flourish in Toronto.
Then I was asked a few questions of clarification by the Councillors and it was on to the next speaker. Other speakers included Tim Charles of TORBA, Mike Heaton of TOBMX, and Graig Fagan of Midweek CC. A number of young adults who use the Wallace Emerson BMX park also spoke. All were supportive of the plan and encouraged the Councillors to approve it.
Which they did. The next stop for the BMX Go Forward Strategy is City Council where it has a chance to be adopted by the City and made official City policy, or to get shot down and we’re back to square zero.
If you want to see improvements in the state of Mountain Biking in the City of Toronto, including at a minimum a Bike Park, now would be the time to pick up the phone and call, or send an email to your Councillor (find yours here). Let them know about the BMX Go Forward Strategy, that you support it, and that you’d like them to support it as well. It wouldn’t hurt to tell them a bit about how you use the City’s facilities for mountain biking and would like to see them improved. That way when the Strategy gets to City Council at least some Councillors will have a clue as to what the Strategy is talking about, that people support it and want to see it put in place, and that it would be an easy political win for them to support it. The date the Strategy goes before City Council is not set, but when it is you’ll hear about it here.
Photo via Flickr