Sadly — and inexplicably — the fight is over for Toronto’s Centennial Mini Indy.
As previously reported, this go-kart track, which is situated on 11 acres inside Toronto’s 470-acre Centennial Park, has been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of users for almost four decades. But as of Nov. 30, this business was permanently shuttered by the city. Already, a demolition crew is on site eradicating the track from existence.
This go-cart track getting the heave-ho is baffling. Patrons love the track. The facility employed 65 people. The track remitted some $200,000 annually to the city.
So, what gives?
The official reason is that the City of Toronto is going ahead with a new “master plan” for Centennial Park. That means no go-karts and more baseball diamonds. But there are already several baseball diamonds already situated in the park. And given the size of the park, why can’t both the track and the baseball diamonds be accommodated?
In an emailed statement to Rebel News, the City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation department had this to say:
In order to better understand current needs of Centennial Park and park users, the City held in-depth public consultations between January 2020 and July 2021. As part of the Master Plan, the City engaged with residents, stakeholders, Indigenous leaders, youth groups, community groups and the Anti-Black Racism Accountability Circle through in-person and virtual forums, as well as surveys, interviews and unique digital engagement tools. Anchored by this public consultation process, the new vision that has emerged is one that is inclusive, publicly accessible and provides new opportunities for community stewardship.
These extensive community consultations for the Council-approved Centennial Park Master Plan identified the needs and desired uses that will proceed in the area currently occupied by the go-kart track and batting cages. The Master Plan reimagines the use of recreational facilities within the park and is informed by the Council-approved Facilities Master Plan.
By implementing this transformational plan, the park will be a year-round destination for residents and visitors to enjoy. The public will have an opportunity to consider the design options later this fall and construction will commence in 2024. The baseball hub aligns with identified community interests and needs and it represents a significant investment in promoting sports and recreational activities that are popular in the area.
The track was a labour of love for its operator, Don Duggan. He fought valiantly to save the track, but it was to no avail. And get this, the City of Toronto is apparently in full Grinch mode these days.
Case in point: Duggan received a letter from Geoffrey Gallagher, the Inquiries and Investigation Counsel for the Toronto Lobbyist Registrar. Gallagher warned Duggan to stop making a fuss about the imminent demise of his business — or else he would be economically disciplined. Apparently, an entrepreneur fighting for his business makes that person a… lobbyist?!
A contravention of the Lobbying By-law is an offence under the Provincial Offences Act of Ontario punishable by a fine of not more than $25,000 on first conviction and of not more than $100,000 on each subsequent conviction; in addition, under the Lobbying By-law, a lobbyist found in contravention may be subject to a temporary ban on lobbying and/or have conditions placed on their existing or future registrations.
Rebel News reached out to Gallagher. We wanted to know how Duggan was classified as a “lobbyist” in the first place. Our call was not returned.
In the meantime, Duggan believes the city is caving to special interest groups. Indeed, given that Toronto city council veers to the left, could it be that the boogeyman that is climate change is the unspoken reason for shutting down the go-kart track? It wouldn’t surprise us, given that Toronto City Hall is infamous for its ongoing war on the car.
Indeed, the question arises again: given that the park is almost 500 acres in size, why couldn’t the city accommodate new baseball diamonds AND the go-kart track? That query remains unanswered.
Bottom line: a go-kart track beloved by thousands of customers is now gone forever. Also gone are the jobs. Also gone is the six-figures in revenue the city earned from the track on an annual basis. No matter how you slice it, this story makes no sense…