Residents, bikers angered by council decision to demolish 'dirt church'
'This place saves people... I've met the most amazing people here.'
Residents and mountain bike riders are dismayed by Windsor City Council's decision to demolish a hidden, handmade mountain bike trail in Windsor's east end.
"I don't know what to think," said trail user Jonathan Gignac. "This place saves people. I've said that before, I'll say it again — it does. I've met the most amazing people here."
City administration plans to demolish the track that's tucked behind the Ganatchio Trail — called "Dirt Church" by some of its faithful — sometime this week.
Over the years, the trail, which was built by community members, has seen several upgrades and now includes steps, warning signs and culverts.
Jan Wilson, the city's executive director of recreation and culture, said there are a number of reasons why the trail had to go.
"We feel that it is a hazard, it is not located in the correct spot — it's in a naturalized area," she said. "Amenities that the city provides, we have to follow safety standard. So from a construction point of view and also a maintenance point of view."
Wilson said the city is looking to see what other municipalities have done to accommodate this type of park.
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"I do want to work with the riders and find out what the best location would be," she said.
But for now, the jumps will be demolished and Wilson said the city will be monitoring the area in case any new ones go up.
"This last version is quite extensive, so we'll be bringing in some help to remove it," said Wilson.
Local resident Lisa Harris put up signs at the track, to show her support to the riders.
"So angry right now," she said to CBC News in a text message. "I think there are bigger things to deal with."
The beloved bike track won't be replaced any time soon. Wilson said it will take time, and there probably won't be a new track "by the spring."
"This place, I'm gonna lose my sanity if they take this place," said Gignac.