Beneath a bridge would be the last place a parent would want their kids to hang out, but a new skate park along Eastern Avenue has been changing attitudes.
The skate park, at 168 Eastern Avenue, is a first of it’s kind in Toronto. Open since August, Underpass Park is in the heart of the concrete jungle, below the Eastern Avenue, Richmond and Adelaide streets overpasses.
Long seen as a haven for street people and itinerants, the under bridge scene has been cleaned up, with all-night lighting offering a unique place for neighbourhood kids to spend their time.
Zach Gani frequents the park to skateboard and believes the city of Toronto has done a great thing by opening it.
“It’s been great. Skateboarding is normally out of the question once the sunsets but Underpass changed all of that. Sometimes on the weekend we stay here until three in the morning.”
The park, which is operated by Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation has taken an oft-avoided part of Toronto, transforming it into a popular year round destination.
Stuart Slessor, a Parks Supervisor for the Eastern Beaches, believes that the park was necessary to help develop Toronto’s lower Donlands.
“It was conceived to develop a community space that all can use and to make a presumably unusable space (under a ramp) usable to the local residents.
The growing popularity of the sport [skateboarding] and the desire to please all demographics played into the planning of a skateboard facility,” he said.
In addition to the skateboard portion of the park, Underpass also houses a good sized playground with a variety of equipment as well as two half sized basketball courts.
The park, due to its sheltered location and new lighting, now offers an outdoor space for children to remain active during the cold winter months.
Twelve-year-old Moule is a regular at Underpass and couldn’t contain his excitement about it opening.
“I love going there. I’m so excited because in the winter we can’t skate. I normally end up sitting around for the whole season. This winter though I’ll be able to skate as much as I want.”
As word of the new skate park spreads, the winter months ahead seem much brighter for Toronto skateboarders.