Looking back on year one with The Yard

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By Ted Simpson

Going out to play in The Yard takes on a whole new meaning thanks to this unique local business.

The Yard is Ottawa’s only indoor skate and bike park and you’ll find it in a funky old warehouse building just across the way from the City Centre complex. The business celebrated its one-year anniversary in February. 

The park is the brainchild of former engineer and current business consultant, Anthony Bereznai, whose love for mountain biking led him to seek out a space to practice his hobby all year round. While he did find the venue he was looking for, that business soon went under and left him with a new challenge.

“There was an indoor bike park open that I really liked. When they eventually closed down, I did try to come in and keep it open, but things just didn’t work out,” said Anthony.

Not one to be easily defeated, Anthony set out to build his own park from scratch, and not just a new bike park, but a space for everyone, from skaters to scooters and anyone else who wants to come out and have a good time.

The first step was a Kickstarter campaign to pre-sell passes and gauge interest in the idea. The response was overwhelmingly positive, raising over $100,000 in just six weeks. 

To make the park a reality, Anthony worked with a 3D artist to previsualize all the elements he wanted for his ideal park. With the combination of Anthony’s engineering background and design technology, they were able to customize The Yard to fit into any space they were able to secure. 

“Once we got this location, it was a bit smaller than what we were hoping for, so we had to work on shoehorning in all the elements that we wanted to have,” said Anthony. “What we ended up with actually makes for a very interesting track, with an almost infinite number of lines you can take, especially the more creative you get.”

The services offered at The Yard are designed to cater to people of all ages and all skill levels, riding on whatever set of wheels makes you happy. 

“Our core group is probably between the ages of eight and 16, that’s about 50 per cent of our customers, and then the other half is very broad. We have people in their 60s coming in to skateboard for the first time, or parents coming in with their three-year-olds and pushing them around on bikes,” Anthony said. 

“We’re very open and welcoming to everyone. We’re not just a skateboard park, or a bike park, we have roller skaters and roller derby folks coming out, we try very hard not to exclude anyone.” 

For more information, visit theyardottawa.com.

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