A victory for common sense, and a reprieve for Ainslie’s community built sports facility

Tim Gavel 2 September 2020 40
The bike jumps in AInslie

The enhanced bike jumps in Ainslie. Photos: Tim Gavel.

In late July I wrote about community angst over plans by officialdom to demolish bike jumps built from dirt by local kids in Ainslie during the COVID-19 shutdown.

I had watched for weeks on end as the kids transported dirt in wheelbarrows to create their own sports facility. At the time, given the government’s intent to knock it down, I described it as “Canberra’s most dangerous sports facility”.

No reason was given for its proposed demolition except to say that it prompted a door-to-door petition as the kids sought to save their work from being flattened.

I have since found out that an email campaign organised by Ainslie residents directly lobbied the ACT Government to stop the proposed demolition.

The story prompted an unprecedented response from Riot ACT readers. Many provided similar stories of these bespoke community-built facilities being flattened. Others reflected on their own childhood experiences building similar ramps and jumps in local parkland.


READ MORE: Canberra’s most dangerous sports facility


But there was also an understanding as to why the government was opposed to makeshift constructions in an age of litigation. Many suggested a sign highlighting the danger be erected.

As it turned out, the ACT Government did intend to demolish the Ainslie jumps. I was reliably informed that workers turned up ready to knock the jumps down, only to be confronted by locals who blocked the knockdown.

On top of the email campaign, it became clear that the community around the park wasn’t going to give up without a fight. The workers retreated and nobody was sure what would happen next.

There were rumours that it would be demolished in the dead of night or the middle of the day when residents were at work or kids at school.

Bike jumps at Ainslie. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Not only did community action save the home-made jumps but the ACT Government remodelled and enhanced the ramps which are loved by the local kids.

In the end, quite the opposite occurred. Common sense prevailed.

Instead of a confrontation, instead of a heavy-handed approach and knocking it down in defiance of community support, the facility was enhanced.

Yes, that’s right. Enhanced.

Workers turned up and spent the day building a safer facility using the framework developed by the local kids. The ACT Government took on board what the community required and built a bigger and more impressive series of jumps. The workers also left a pile of dirt to allow the kids to continue working on their own concepts.

Driving past the day after the redevelopment, I watched on as kids lined up to test the new facility with very little apparent danger.

If ever there was evidence of the prevalence of common sense and working with the community we have seen it in full display at a small suburban park in Ainslie.


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40 Responses to A victory for common sense, and a reprieve for Ainslie’s community built sports facility
demetri demetri 12:36 am 05 Sep 20

Tim, Thanks for your eloquent and articulate contribution to all of this. It was my “One kid and a shovel” that started these, and he’s very relieved that the jumps didn’t get bulldozed again. Of course, the trail builders haven’t done as good a job as he had…! We prayed every night that these jumps wouldn’t be destroyed, and God heard! I’m grateful the government and it’s agencies have responded positively and constructively to this. And Tim, I’m very grateful for you and Genevieve taking the time to think and write on this issue, it’s made a significant difference for our family and the families of those who build and enjoy the jumps. Bless you!

Jennifer Bradley Jennifer Bradley 1:33 pm 04 Sep 20

Good - in McKellar when we arrived the area where the soccer club is was waste land, with much builder dumping. The local kids built their own adventure playground for bikes and mountain bikes. Imagination abounded and their games were wide ranging and adventurous. Had to disappear when new McKellar was begun, which was a pity.

Adrian Norris Adrian Norris 1:02 pm 04 Sep 20

Good stuff

Janine Saines Janine Saines 6:48 am 04 Sep 20

A fanastic outcome, well done kids & your supportive community, then to the workman & governme t for letting the kids engineering prevail!

Queanbeyanite Queanbeyanite 8:05 pm 03 Sep 20

“Emergent unregulated social collaboration by the young is radically unsound. Fortunately, in the ACT local council at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the political classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Garema Place.”

As Lady Bracknell would warm us!

Andrew Watkin Andrew Watkin 6:55 pm 03 Sep 20

Thats awesome!!!

Phillip Yandell Phillip Yandell 4:39 pm 03 Sep 20

Keep it up lads if I’m out in Ainsley I’ll come Bust out with you

Highlands Lamb Highlands Lamb 3:28 pm 03 Sep 20

I use to walk through that park 3 days a week last year on my way to Climb Mt Ainslie. It started with 1 kid and a shovel. Pretty impressive now.

John Morgan John Morgan 2:28 pm 03 Sep 20

When we were kids we would ride I think about 5 km from our house in Granville to a area where there was just mounds of dirt where us kids on pushbike turned into a track for our self’s in the 60’s.

Kate Etchells Kate Etchells 1:55 pm 03 Sep 20

We had some tree swings in Duffy, but someone took them down....we try so hard to encourage outdoor play. And a sense of community

Gamer Gamer Gamer Gamer 10:22 am 03 Sep 20

Now if we can only stop the massive number of thefts and break ins so kids actually own bikes

Daniel J. Morgan Daniel J. Morgan 7:57 am 03 Sep 20

Might have to move back to Canberra. A government that acts in the best interest of the community. What a concept.

Michael McDonnell Michael McDonnell 8:49 pm 02 Sep 20

Just pass a law that this sort of thing is at your own risk can't sue the government

Mitch Carrington Mitch Carrington 8:25 pm 02 Sep 20

Finally a win, about time Canberra government woke up. Let the kids be kids and enjoy their lives. The amount of times we had our jumps bulldozed for no good reason was a joke.

Jason Preston Jason Preston 8:02 pm 02 Sep 20

Anyone remember the public motocross track a Narrabundah?

The government bulldozed that

Same with the one that’d been made down in Tuggeranong too.

Cheryl Thuillier Cheryl Thuillier 6:19 pm 02 Sep 20

They local kids have built some in my local park. Nice to see kids out and doing stuff instead of being on computers and gaming.

Andre De Groot Andre De Groot 4:18 pm 02 Sep 20

Good kids,playing outside better then PlayStation games.

Trevor Webb Trevor Webb 3:03 pm 02 Sep 20

Canberra kids need BMX tracks in more Suburbs instead of stupid concrete skate parks.

Phillip Thorneycroft Phillip Thorneycroft 1:48 pm 02 Sep 20

Which park in Ainslie

Charles Godworth Charles Godworth 12:48 pm 02 Sep 20

The same is happening at a small park in Waramanga. The kids have built a small set of dirt jumps and now chris steel has ordered they be flattened. He wants them to all go back inside to their playstations

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