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Firebird puts the 'cycle' in recycle

Firebird Community Cycle brings refurbished bicycles to the masses; hosts spring sale on Saturday

They don’t come with snow tires, but Firebird Community Cycle will be bringing affordable, refurbished bicycles to families during their spring sale on Saturday.

“There are lots of people who can’t afford them, but these bikes need homes,” said Grant Wilson, a member of the Firebird team. “On Saturday, we’ll have bikes for sale that were donated and we’ve fixed up and repaired.”

Firebird Community Cycle is a not-for-profit bicycle repair shop which is operating on funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund. They run a year-round shop at 134 Anne St. S., through a partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Firebird’s Spring Bike Sale and Open House will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., at the Anne Street shop. So if you need a bike for a child, youth or adult, chances are they have something that fits your needs. All transactions are via cash, cheque or e-transfer.

Saturday’s sale will include everything from BMX bikes to mountain bikes and vintage road bikes.

“We’ll have lots of very economical bicycles and many kids’ bikes of all sizes,” Wilson said.  

The folks at Firebird, which also operates a drop-in shop Sundays and Mondays from 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., pride themselves on their pay-what-you-can, grassroots approach.  

“We want to mobilize people and get them onto bicycles,” Wilson said, adding it not only gets people active, but is also a low-cost mode of transportation to get around the city. “With the high cost of rent, more people are ditching their car. Bicycles have become a very economical way to get from Point A to Point B.”

Firebird also runs Revolution, Barrie’s first female-specific program where they learn to wrench and earn a bike in the end. The 10-week program sees participants learn to disassemble/reassemble and repair a bike.

The repaired bike is then redistributed back into the community -- through events like their spring sale -- while participants, for their sweat equity, receive another one to take home at the end of the program in June.

Firebird is also working with a group of graduating Grade 8 students from several Simcoe County District School Board elementary schools through a 12-week program at Barrie North Collegiate. Students in that program learn basic bicycle mechanic skills while also developing literacy and numeracy skills.

Throughout the summer, Firebird officials will also be visiting the city’s five recreation centres to operate drop-in workshops to repair bicycles, in addition to organizing bike rodeos to help teach basic riding and repair skills.

Firebird began almost a decade ago at Barrie Central Collegiate as a lunchtime program for at-risk youth.

“That grew into (programs for) other people and then there were people wanting to donate,” Wilson said. “It ended up we had more bikes than students.”

The group receives assistance from the Kempenfelt Rotary Club, Barrie Cycling Club and Beacon Environmental. Public donations to help finance the programs as well as volunteer support are also welcomed, in addition to the ongoing need for old bicycles and parts.

For more information on the group, visit

Raymond Bowe

About the Author: Raymond Bowe

Raymond is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting from Simcoe County since 2000
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