The City of Toronto has demanded a long-standing Etobicoke go-kart track cease operations and vacate Centennial Park by Nov. 30, despite it having a groundswell of support from the community.
City Hall has not relented on its planned eviction of Centennial Park Mini Indy.
Centennial Mini Indy president Don Duggan told True North the city failed by not consulting the park’s businesses, who he said were being forced to shut down by the city’s master plan for Centennial Park.
“By getting rid of the Mini Indy, they’re basically giving the middle finger to all the people that do attend [the Mini Indy], and all the staff that’s going to lose jobs, especially in a day and age where Toronto is going hat in hand to the federal government for money,” he said. “Why would you say no to something that makes you money?”
As part of Toronto’s Centennial Park Master Plan, released in 2021, the city is refusing to renew the Mini Indy’s property lease. City officials ordered the business out with minimal consultation, Duggan said.
The master plan will also see the scrapping of Toronto’s only remaining batting cages and the park’s volleyball courts, replacing them with four new baseball diamonds.
The Centennial Mini Indy, which has been there for 37 years, is renowned for having the longest go-kart track in Ontario.
News of the Centennial Mini Indy’s imminent closure upset many of its 150,000 annual visitors, prompting Duggan to start a petition in July.
Since then, Duggan said he has managed to collect over 29,000 signatures urging the city reverse course, 18,000 of which are hard copy signatures from the Mini Indy’s customers, with the rest coming from customers of the batting cages and volleyball courts.
However, Duggan said City Hall has been unresponsive.
“Basically, the decision was made during the Covid period of 2021,” said Duggan. “Who was really consulted? Nobody talked to me. Absolutely nobody.”
In a July interview with CBC, Etobicoke Centre Coun. Stephen Holyday said that he and his family have had “a lot of fun” at the Mini Indy and batting cages, but insisted that the master plan’s vision for Centennial Park was necessary.
“I’ve been to the batting cages with my family and I’ve been to the go-kart track with my family,” Holyday told CBC.
“It’s an amusement. It’s a lot of fun. I can’t argue with that. But it is part of the Centennial Park vision to change this area, to create more soccer fields and a baseball hub.”
In response to Holyday remarks, Duggan noted that Centennial Park already has seven baseball diamonds that are underutilised, even during the summer months.
“They [the baseball diamonds] are used one or two times a week through the summer months only and on the odd weekend somebody has a permit to use it. The rest of the time they sit empty,” said Duggan.
Duggan implored City Hall to reach out for a conversation with himself and the owners of the businesses affected by the master plan.
“I would really like Oliva Chow and Stephen Holyday and any councillors that agree with us to please talk to us, just talk to us,” said Duggan.
“However it works out, it works out, but let’s have the conversation.”