Thursday, December 09, 2010

Death Knell for DJs

Sign posted at entrance to Dirt Jumps

Directly east of the North Toronto Sewage Treatment Plant is an area locally known as the "Flats". This area has been used for several years by the cycling community as a location for stunt cycling with BMX style bicycles. It is a popular cycling destination and has the advantage of being relatively secluded and off the beaten path. In addition the sandy soil makes it perfect for building dirt jumps which gives it the nickname DJs. One big downside for the site is that it only accessible by crossing the CN railroad tracks. While there are constructed pathways that allow you to get underneath the railroad bridges at either end of the Flats, the main problem for the city is that four-letter word: liability. If someone were to get seriously injured there is no way to get emergency vehicles in there. An injured person would have to be carried out.

This issue was identified in the Crothers' Woods Trail Management Strategy and since 2007 has been identified as a place to be shut down. Some wheels turn really slow in the city so it was only recently that the decision was made and this week signs were posted in the vicinity. Early next week, work crews will move in and dismantle all the constructed wooden material at this site and the nearby Dirt Camp. It is not clear but I imagine that the earthen jumps will also be levelled rendering the site unusable for cycling activities.

I've been somewhat ambivalent about this site. I know it impinges on potentially valuable habitat and the excavated holes have no doubt damaged tree roots and prevented any type of natural regeneration from happening. Still the presence of this site and its popularity means that there is a demand for this activity in the city. I always felt that it was better to leave this site alone until other facilities were constructed to replace it. Sadly, no such facilities have been built nearby. The closest official site is Bayview and Finch, not easily accessible by local kids. If this site is shut down then some other site will no doubt spring up somewhere else in the valley.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Three Bridges

I went for a ride in through E.T. Seton Park yesterday and took this photo. An interesting perspective where you can see three bridges. The first is the new footbridge across the West Don River, the second is the old arched bridge going over the old channel and the third is the CP railway bridge in the background.