toronto public golf course

Toronto might get rid of its public golf courses

Toronto's public golf courses are in decline and now costing the city money. A new report up for debate by the city's government management committee puts it bluntly: "including overhead expenses, the golf operations incur a net loss on an annual basis."

Right now, private companies operate the pro shops as well as the food and beverage services at municipal golf courses while the city handles golf course assets and turf maintenance. 

In the short term, staff recommend that the city issue two-year extensions to the existing operators under the same service delivery model that's been used in previous years, but they warn that major changes are required to reverse the trend of declining revenues. 

"The participation for golf is declining across North America as well as in the city’s golf operations," the report notes. "It is anticipated that without significant investment in city-run golf courses, this downward trend in rounds is expected to continue."

As such, Parks and Recreation wants to solicit an external review and 20 year plan for the city's public golf courses. What a new service model might look like and what exactly Toronto does with each of its five golf courses is up in air.

The status quo, however, doesn't appear viable. 

"Over the past years, many Canadian municipalities have been exploring alternate service delivery and alternate use options for their golf operations as a result of similar pressures around operating municipal golf courses."

Some have suggested that under-used courses be turned into parks, while various private clubs around the GTA have been sold to real estate developers.

In the case of Oakville's Glen Abbey, which owner ClubLink proposed to redevelop into a housing community, there was considerable backlash from area residents, and the plan was ultimately rejected by the local city council.

The government management committee report doesn't hint at specifics related to the possible changes to come for Toronto's public golf courses, but it does make it clear that an overhaul of some kind is required. 

Lead photo by

Jonathan Stokes


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