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NEWS: Permanent pad for the Pits (Mar. 2021)

March 26th, 2021 · No Comments

Layton leads the initiative to get skateboarding pad installed quickly

DIY skateboarding ramps and half-pipes in Sid Smith Rink are finding a new permanent home in Christie Pits. COURTESY MIGS BARTULA, CO-CHAIR OF THE TORONTO SKATEBOARDING COMMITTEE

By Mary An 

Since 2017, Christie Pits Park has welcomed local skateboarders on Sid Smith Ice Rink during the warmer seasons. With more people looking to get outside and get active with limited feasible options, the “pop-up” skateboarding pad has seen a drastic increase in traffic. However, the skate pad echoed loudly, being surrounded by wooden rink boards. This resulted in a lot of community tension, since it was at the edge of the park very close to homes.

“It’s noisy, really noisy,” said Councillor Layton. “It’s not people noise, it’s constant banging, over and over again. You can imagine, like seven days a week of being up until 11 p.m. because your windows are open and can hear the noise from your windows.”

Layton said that changing it to a single, flat concrete pad, affixing obstacles to the ground, and moving the skate pad further away from homes should address the noise issues. The new pad will “allow stakeboarders to create another DIY space for immediate access,” he said. Skakeboarding will no longer be allowed in Sid Smith Rink.

Nearby resident and coordinator of Christie Pits Skateboard Park, Raelynn Pluecks, proposed the pop-up park and coordinated with the Toronto Skateboarding Committee and local volunteers to build the ramps and half-pipes that have enjoyed so much use over the past year. She says the park was necessary due to a lack of skateboarding facilities in Toronto’s west end.

“To be able to go to an existing concrete park, it takes about an hour and 15 minutes on transit,” she says.

In the fall of 2020, tensions over the pop-up park were running high in the neighbourhood. In his motion to council proposing the creation of a concrete skatepad at Christie Pits, Councillor Layton wrote that “Parks Operations staff, my office, those involved in the Christie Pits DIY skate park, and local residents have been meeting for the last three months to try and get a better handle on the noise, but with limited success due to the acoustics created by the rink boards and positioning of the rink.” He also wrote that the amenity and its use are “too great to lose for any extended period of time.”

Layton says with the project approved, his goal is to set records with its implementation and to have it operational at the beginning of the next skateboard season.

The city gained public consultation last fall through an online survey to get a better sense of what the community thinks of a permanent skateboard pad within Christie Pits Park. In a newsletter Councillor Layton sent out on February 5, he states that out of 575 completed surveys, “89.2 percent of responses are wanting to see a permanent, dedicated space created at some point in the future.”

The newsletter also identifies three potential locations, far away from homes to address the sound issue, for the permanent skate pad within Christie Pits Park: the area south of the soccer field, the area east of the washroom building, and the area west of the basketball court. All locations would need a certain amount of concrete and lighting to ensure visitors have enough space and light all year round. 

According to Pluecks, there is some concern with the space of the permanent skate pad, as the proposed locations offer a significantly smaller footprint than the pop-up skateboarding pad on Sid Smith Ice Rink. Increased skateboarding traffic is also expected because the skate pad at Dufferin Grove Park is currently under construction. 

Councillor Layton’s February newsletter contains yet another survey seeking input on the new skate-pad’s location, orientation and size.

“We are trying to maximize the amount of space and minimize the amount of paving that has to be added to the park,” says Councillor Layton. 

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Tags: Annex · News