Move comes after a heated debate over whether roller skating had reached a ‘zoned’ state after building permits were issued in the area, and grounds for axis ban were established
The Toronto parks and recreation department has announced a reprieve for residents facing the prospect of rink-less winters. It’s not a change in policy but rather the first concrete example of a city building permit not being issued for an axi zone, an area created following consultations between residents and the city.
The city began issuing axi zone permits last summer in response to a heated debate over whether roller skating had reached a “zoned” state in the city, and the grounds for the axi ban were established.
“We chose to do it by talking with the people on the ground. They gave us a list of the types of activities that were a least on the radar for them and created a database of axi zones, and from that we looked at the activities that had been given an axi zone,” said Mike King, chief planner for the city of Toronto.
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“The list started with hockey and started with those existing regulations.”
Starting in September, the city will start requiring that all axi zones have two-hockey arenas within walking distance of the site, and will therefore avoid the axi zone for all games unless they’re being played in close proximity. The permit also stipulates that courses be held inside of the axi zone rather than outside it – to protect skaters’ health and safety.
Over the course of the summer, workers conducted more than 1,500 consultations with the public, with the possibility of axi zones based around education or childcare.
But in May, residents took to social media to petition against the axi zone permit, demanding the opportunity to skate in greenfields that they said were zoned exclusively for vaudeville.
This summer, the city has also recently agreed to an initiative to have non-skating activities become more familiar with axi zones, according to King.
Lisa Gilbert, of the Education Ministry, which is part of the city’s public-sector umbrella group the Partnership for Public Service Excellence, said officials are surveying parents to determine what steps need to be taken to bring the axei zones into the future.
“One of the things we have seen happen with AxiZone is actually there’s a pretty large understanding of its value and the importance that it carries,” Gilbert said. “We’re trying to create more evidence-based practices.”