Just over a year ago, on April 5th 2018, an ambitious Kickstarter campaign launched for The Yard: Ottawa’s only indoor, year-round bike and skateboard park. As a lifelong skateboarder I immediately signed up for a support tier and then set up to interview Anthony Bereznai, the project’s owner, for a feature on Apt613 which you can read here.
Since our initial conversation, a lot of things have happened for Bereznai and The Yard, but on the last weekend of March 2019 the park has finally fully opened for business! Located at 265 City Centre Avenue, The Yard features an 11,500 sq. ft. terrain park plus retail, rentals, and a canteen.
A number of interesting events that took place following Apt613’s previous coverage. First and foremost, 583 backers helped raise over $100,000 on Kickstarter to help the project become a reality. With funding secured, and as a point of disclosure, Bereznai brought me onto the team as the Project Architect in collaboration with Jordan at Rydan Ramp Co. who handled the terrain park design.
From there began the search for a space to lease for the park which balanced building size, configuration, location, and affordability. With space secured in late August, the work began in earnest by hosting a number of terrain park feedback sessions to make sure The Yard would have an optimum configuration for all its intended user groups.
The building, which once housed an auto repair shop and more recently a federal storage facility, required a significant amount of modification to suit its new users. After several months of construction and negotiation between the project team and the City of Ottawa, The Yard was opened to the public on February 16th (while the service and amenity spaces were still under construction). Finally, on Friday March 29th The Yard received their full occupancy permit and were able to fully open for business.
Designed to appeal to a wide variety of users and skill levels, The Yard is an open and welcoming environment to come and ride whether you are a veteran or a novice. Unique to The Yard is the open and supporting environment, where everyone is encouraging, and traditional barriers between action sports are simply forgotten.
The terrain park includes a BMX pump track with both roller and jump lines; a bowl that would put most backyard ramps to shame; an advanced section with giant quarter pipes and box jump for serious air; and a small street section for honing your skills on banks, quarter pipes, grind boxes and flat bars.
In addition to the terrain park, The Yard is now home to Airborne Action Sports, which operates the retail component. The shop carries everything BMX and scooter riders could need, from full set-ups to replacement parts and accessories.
At the time of writing, there are unfortunately no skateboard parts or accessories for sale in the shop but I am told that the guys over at Birling are in the process of changing this. Also available at the shop are a wide variety of soft goods, t-shirts, and safety gear to make sure your skin stays where it belongs: on your body. Alongside the retail component is a wide variety of equipment rentals including skateboards, scooters, BMXs, dirt-jump bikes, and safety equipment.
Finally, The Yard offers a range of other services like birthday party packages, summer camps, and facility rentals. Community-minded programming is a key part of the business model. This include Girls+ park days which offer reduced entry fees for Girls+ all day on Mondays, as well as family and beginner sessions from 9–11am every Saturday and Sunday.
The Yard has partnered with For Pivot’s Sake, a local not-for-profit which provides underprivileged youth with refurbished skateboards and lessons as a means to mentor youth through physical activity; and help them develop real world skills that benefit them outside of skateboarding.
The Yard is now open at 265 City Centre Avenue. The ground floor of the facility is fully accessible and includes a universal washroom. Hours of operation and entry fees vary, please see The Yard’s website for more information. Helmets are mandatory for all participants, rentals (including helmet) are available. All participants and spectators must complete a waiver before entering the park, parent/guardian signatures are required for all minors.