Secret Ontario bike park demolished by city reopens as oasis for mountain bikers
Published Thursday, August 18, 2022 6:54PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 18, 2022 6:54PM EDT
Two years after a secret bike park deep in an Ontario forest was discovered and later demolished, new dirt jumps are opening just a stone's throw away.
“Greenland was different for everybody,” rider and organizer Steven Lind told CTV News Toronto, referencing the more than a decade old homemade oasis for mountain bikers near the Oshawa Airport.
“Some people found comradery there. For some people, it was their home away from home.”
Some even nurtured highly acclaimed careers at the local spot. Mike Varga, an X Games Gold Medallist who grew up in Oshawa, was a regular at the community course.
“These jumps definitely enabled me to become what I wanted to become,” Varga told CTV News Toronto when word got out that the city was shuttering the park.
In 2020, the City of Oshawa found out about the unsanctioned BMX park, which happened to sit on city-owned land. Not long after, fences with padlocks blocked off the park.
At the time, a city spokesperson voiced concerns surrounding safety, the lack of access for emergency vehicles and visibility of the park, since it was located in a forested area.
In response, Lind started a petition. “I just crossed my fingers,” he said. It accumulated more than 6,500 signatures and he began meeting with city council to find a solution that would serve the community.
“We ended up finding a new location just adjacent to the original,” Lind said. The key difference about the new space on Thornton Road North was that it was visible to the public.
The original target was to build a new bike park within four years. But just two years later, a ribbon was cut at a grand opening ceremony for the new location on Thursday.
“I got a smile on my face so big, I'm having trouble wiping it off,” local city councillor Rick Kerr said while standing alongside the new park.
“This is exactly what I saw when I wanted to get this park built.”
While the original intent of the project was to replace lost space for the bike community, it’s also serving the neighbourhood with plans for a splash pad and pickleball court in the cards.
“It’s also significant because it’s opened up a piece of land that’s been empty for a decade, if not longer,” Lind said.
“Even if it’s taken away from a previous legacy, it’s started a new one,” he said.