Skaters will be able to warm up their fingertips at Kew Gardens’ newly inaugurated fire pit this winter.
The idea was conceived in 2012 by Friends of the Beach Parks and Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, said Lisa Rochon of the Friends group.
“The idea for the pit was to animate the skating rink and the boardwalk and give the community a wonderful magnetic new place to gather.”
Rochon said similar fire pits in Collingwood inspired the idea. The pit is beside the Kew Gardens skating rink near the boardwalk.
Some families have already lit the fires, along with a group of boy scouts and cubs since its first lighting two weeks ago, said Rochon. The pit was approved after Christmas after several visits by the fire marshal.
The fire is enclosed in a handcrafted iron cage made by ironsmith Bob Graham of Thornbury. “We had to be careful about city protocols and be mindful about keeping cost down,” said Rochon.
Beach supervisor Stuart Slessor supplies wood collected from fallen trees, said Rochon.
“It feels now like being at your cottage,” said Rochon, who noted it’s a great experiment so far. “Wonderful conversations have been struck up by people who are total strangers.”
James Dann, manager of waterfront parks for the City of Toronto said Kew Gardens was chosen as a location for the pit because of the rink and the amount of youth in the community.
“It’s great for people to have the ability to sit with friends when the Zamboni is on the ice, or if they just want to take a break,” said Dann who grew up in the community.
“I think the pit will add an awful lot of character to an already beautiful location,” said Dann.
Friends of the Beach Parks formed in 2012 to bring new programming ideas and improvements to public space, said Rochon. Over the past year they’ve organized community events such as a paddleboard flotilla, an open-air library, and a pumpkin pie baking competition.
The group is seeking volunteers to come light the pit on Friday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday afternoons until mid-march. Volunteers can email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.