Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

The more than 500-acre Centennial Park is one of Toronto’s gems of a green space, known for its ample size and recreational facilities, ranging from a stadium and conservatory to a golf course and a go-kart track.

It is also quite remarkably one of only two city-run ski and snowboard slopes in winter, offering a much cheaper and closer option than the resorts further north, which also happens to be the perfect size for beginners to practice their skills before they turns up somewhere more challenging like Blue Mountain.

Given that it first opened in the late ’60s, the park is in need of a makeover, and the city recently released a long-awaited master plan for what exactly it will entail.

hundred-year-old park

Reproduction of a new arboretum area thanks to the City of Toronto’s new master plan for Centennial Park.

Things like a new ice rink, playgrounds, skate park, trails, gathering places, public art and more are now on the way to Etobicoke Park, along with a better memory of native history through gardens and design aspects.

But some changes just made to the plan now quietly suggest the city is doing away with key elements of the Centennial, including the ski slope.

hundred-year-old park

New views of Centennial Park pond. Reproduction from the City of Toronto’s new master plan for the park.

“Replacement of ski slope activity” is one of the improvements mentioned in the updates of the master plan from October 2021, which recommends that the city undergo facilities that are “at the end of their lives”, with the ski slope mentioned as an example .

“Although Centennial Park and Earl Bale’s Snow Centers are the only alpine ski and snowboard facilities in Toronto City, the infrastructure is at a critical point where a decision must be made about the future of the Centennial Park Ski and Snowboard Center,” it said. new iteration of the plan reader.

“The decline in the use of the ski and snowboard center and the deteriorating infrastructure, combined with the uncertainty of a changing climate, makes it possible to revise the ski slope area.”

hundred-year-old park

An ice rink will bring new winter activities to the park in the absence of the ski slope. Reproduction from the City of Toronto’s Master Plan for Centennial Park.

According to the document, the primary ski lift on site is no longer functional and the entire slope was closed in 2017 due to defective snow making equipment, the correct function of which is the key to such a slope during periods of little snowfall.

It also notes that according to recent urban surveys, smaller ski slopes are gradually becoming less popular, and that changing winter weather is definitely a factor.

The idea is to transform the hill and its associated buildings into a more flexible space suitable for different purposes all year round, something that 71 per cent of respondents in a survey said they support, while only 29 per cent stated that they do not want that the ski center must be removed or moved.

The hill is one of three focus areas for change (along with the pond and the heart of the park), with a rethink that will retain a toboggan area but see the chairlift building and the cabin transformed into something completely different.

Renovated trails will make lookouts at the top of the hill more accessible, while a cultural fitness center, campfire sites and the aforementioned ice rink will reside at the base. The hill will also be the site of an amphitheater halfway down.

hundred-year-old park

A renewal of the view at the top of the hailstone and the paths leading to it will give it a refresh and make it more accessible. Reproduction from the City of Toronto’s new master plan for Centennial Park.

As noted by Star, contrary to the public response the city requested to the plan, many residents are not happy about the idea of ​​getting rid of the ski facilities and merging them with them at Earl Bales Park, a half-hour drive away in North York.

For many, the hill was a more accessible path into what is a notoriously expensive, scary sport.

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