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Friends of the forest: U of T mountain bike team recognized for Don Valley clean-up program

Co-captains of the team, Michal Leckie and Brandon Fawkes, and head coach David Wright, accept their awards from a representative of the City of Toronto (photo courtesy of Varsity Blues)

The University of Toronto’s Varsity Blues mountain biking team was recently recognized by the City of Toronto with a certificate of appreciation for their ongoing volunteer work in Toronto's Don Valley urban forest.

Over the past 18 years, the team has organized an annual event where team members, alumni and volunteers have helped remove a total of 44,000 pounds of garbage from the forest floor.

“This recognition is important because it both highlights the great work our U of T students, the leaders of tomorrow, are doing outside the classroom alongside the City of Toronto, but also highlights an important local environmental issue that everyone can get involved with,” said David Wright, head coach of the team.

Wright accepted the award alongside team co-captains Michal Leckie and Brandon Fawkes.
This year the clean-up project will be integrated into U of T’s urban studies curriculum, and students will conduct additional research on issues surrounding urban waste in our forested city ravines.

The trails in the forest are the training ground for the U of T cyclists, so the team is happy to ensure it remains clean, green and accessible.

“Happy trails mean a happy team,” says Wright.  “It’s a win-win situation. We are a high performance program on the race course, but also in life. Volunteering is important.” 

The team has already started recruiting volunteers for the 2019 clean-up event on Saturday, May 11. Those who are interested are asked to email mountainbiking@utoronto.ca.