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Preserving Local Treasures: A Plea to Save Diamond Beach and Mini-Indy Go Karts
July 13 2023
For anyone that knows Etobicoke, you probably are familiar with the go karts, the batting cages, and the beach volleyball courts at Centennial Park. Much like the Golf Centre at Centennial, these are private businesses that have been part of the local surroundings for decades. Though the city may not often highlight these gems, they have garnered a loyal following among residents of all ages. More than mere profit-making ventures, they serve as affordable, family-friendly spaces that cater to the diverse needs of the local community.
These recreational hubs are magnets for the young and young at heart alike, offering a range of engaging activities that bring families closer together. Parents seeking an exciting outing for their children find solace in these dynamic spaces, knowing they can provide endless hours of entertainment without breaking the bank. Meanwhile, local youth seize the opportunity to unleash their competitive spirits, honing their skills and fostering a sense of camaraderie among friends.
It's not just families and individuals who benefit from these recreational facilities, but also organizations and businesses looking for team bonding or to host memorable outings. Throughout the spring season and even well into the crisp days of late fall, these venues play host to a myriad of events and gatherings. Whether it's a corporate team-building exercise, a day camp field trip, or a community fundraiser, these treasured spots offer a versatile canvas for creating lasting memories.
However, all of this is slated to change at the end of this season. The park is currently being redesigned under a master development plan that no longer shows space for these venues according to the City Staff and local City Councilor Stephen Holyday of Ward 2 which is Etobicoke Centre.
In an article on CP24.com ( https://beta.cp24.com/news/2023/7/6/1_6469454.html ) he states “the community consultation prior to finalizing the Centennial Park Master Plan was “very extensive.” According to the City of Toronto, over 200 participants joined a virtual open house in May 2021 to learn more about the future of the park and ask questions”.
That said, in a ward of over 100,000 residents, this lack of true consultation does not sit well with many residents and the owners of these businesses. Many in the community are just hearing about the closures through word of mouth and local community social media groups. The park upgrades in regards to the hill, playground, and wading pool is old news but changes affecting these businesses were never clearly stated and feel almost hidden to many people I have been speaking with over the last week.
I personally spent an afternoon at the Mini-Indy yesterday with my two teens and they had a blast. We went mid-afternoon and found that the track was busy with people of all ages. There were many kids from a day camp, young teens who were hanging out with friends, and families with kids of all ages! I saw multiple moms and a grandmother riding with little ones who were too young to drive which I personally thought was awesome. Our family is normally there in the evening and so it was fun to see that it was still busy on a Tuesday afternoon when there were storms in the forecast. When the rain started the kids had already finished driving but we stuck around to play some arcade games. My family could easily spend an hour just playing air hockey!
News of the planned closure really got out just recently when an online petition started making the rounds on local Facebook groups and on Twitter in recent weeks. Shortly after I arrived I spoke with staff who were circulating a paper version. I mentioned I knew and signed online, they were grateful for the support because no one wants to see the track closed. I ended up connecting with Matthew Duggan who is the General Manager of Centennial Park Mini Indy Go Karts and is the son of the owner, Don Duggan. We spoke at length about the history his father’s business has in our community and that many visitors who came as kids are now bringing their kids to drive around on the largest outdoor track in the city. I was able to tell him that I am part of this group too as I first drove around the Mini Indy when I was on an end of year class outing in grade 7! As a teen I didn’t always have the guts to drive but I loved the video game arcade and watching friends get out and race.
Matthew told me that his family has made a point to stay affordable for visitors and understand times are tough for many people and so they have managed to keep prices the same for several years even as operation costs rise.
Our local community really did not get a say and our Councillor needs to know that there are thousands who do not agree with closing some of the last truly affordable family venues in our community. The owners of the businesses are seeking help from visitors and the community in convincing the City of Toronto not to demolish Diamond Beach and the Mini-Indy!
We are at a critical juncture in the history of our beloved Centennial Park, and they need your unwavering support. Two iconic local businesses that have held a special place in our hearts for many decades: Diamond Beach, the last remaining batting cages in Toronto, and Mini-Indy, Canada's renowned outdoor go-kart track. With your help, we can rally against this decision and ensure the survival of these cherished institutions. These are unique venues and we should be proud to have them in our area! Their legacy should not be erased; it should be celebrated and preserved.
With careful consideration of the space required for the new diamonds and the planned utilization of the park, it is believed to be entirely feasible to maintain the beloved batting cages, the newly revitalized clubhouse, beach volleyball courts, and Mini-Indy. Moreover, it is important to note that the two diamonds the City intends to relocate are conveniently situated adjacent to the existing facilities.
The impact of Diamond Beach and Mini-Indy cannot be underestimated. Year after year, they attract tens of thousands of individuals from all corners of southern Ontario to Centennial Park. They have become an indispensable resource for numerous groups, teams, families, companies, and tourists, serving as an activity center, a training facility, and an overall exceptional outdoor experience. They are an essential part of the community and it is only fair that the community has an actual say in how their park is utilized.
If you agree that it is worth trying to stop this closure please start by signing the petition, and share your love for these cherished destinations.
Another step you can take is to write an email to Councilor Stephen Holyday and let him know why you want this closure to be reconsidered and why it is important to you and your neighbours. If you live in another ward you can include your own Councillor as well. Lets get everyone talking and more people noticing! Together, we can demonstrate to the City of Toronto that these attractions are not mere structures but invaluable treasures that deserve to be protected and celebrated. Lets help to ensure that future generations can continue to experience the thrill, laughter, and camaraderie that Diamond Beach and Mini-Indy have provided for so many years. Take a stand and let us preserve these remarkable legacies for the enjoyment of all.
If you want to discuss further ways leave a comment or send an email to TheEtobicokeVoice@gmail.com