Winchester resident Stefan Kohut is serious when it comes to recreation, and he’s not afraid to put his time and energy where his mouth is. Stefan has been vocal about the need for more recreational amenities in North Dundas for months, and he has had many ideas about what sort of amenities would be great for local youth. His latest idea? A bike park in Winchester.
Stefan has been in touch with a few local experts over the past few weeks, trying to figure out how to make a bike park happen. One of the people he has talked to is the designer of the BMX bike park in Kemptville, who is also affiliated with the Ottawa BMX Association. “He’s really keen on this project for us, because it’s something he’s never done,” said Stefan. “He’s never done a hill from scratch. He’s always gone into existing places and shaped it and worked it and fixed it so that it was more functional for the bikers.”
Stefan is hoping that a bike park in Winchester can be built in a central location, where the “eyes of the community” can help to make sure that it is being used respectfully and properly. Stefan believes in the idea that members of the community can watch out for each other’s children in a true “it takes a village” mindset.
A location is not yet confirmed, but Stefan is always on the lookout for suitable locations not just in Winchester, but in all North Dundas villages as well. He scoped out a currently unused public location in Chesterville recently that was formerly used for dumping snow. He believes this would be a great location to build something for the children. “I think Chesterville really needs something like this for their kids, I think they need it so bad,” Stefan added. “To give them a place where they could go out, have fun and have risk without having to get that thrill from possibly getting caught by the police or their neighbours is kind of what I’m going for.”
Of course, with any project, not everyone will be in favour. Many locals are worried about tax increases as a result of any recreational project, though the aim is to not fund the project with tax dollars. Stefan hopes to secure donations of money and resources from local businesses to fund any recreation projects. For the proposed Winchester bike park, BTL Excavation and Construction has reportedly agreed to donate soil to form the mounds, and the use of their equipment if gas is paid for. Most of those commenting on a social media post about the project idea seem to agree that it would be a great way to give local youth something to do.
While this would not be a Township funded project, the Township would undoubtedly need to give approvals and have input. The insurance required has raised some questions, since the Township has been having difficulties with its insurance provider as of late, causing restrictive measures for some public events. Stefan has been in touch with the Director of Recreation and Culture so that the appropriate information can be presented to Council for deliberation.
Starting small in Winchester, Stefan thinks that a bike park, or a similar recreational amenity for youth, is something that could be built in each North Dundas village in the years ahead. It’s for the kids!