golf courses toronto

People would like to see Toronto golf courses used for urban farms and park space

Toronto's golf courses are under review and some people have suggestions for better uses of the large green spaces.

The city operates five courses across the city — Scarlett Woods, Humber Valley, Don Valley, Tam O’Shanter and Dentonia Park. A review of the golf courses started last summer as a way to "better understand how to maximize golf and non-golf experiences."

Lockdowns have led to more use of golf courses in the last two years but overall there have been decreasing rates of play and escalating costs, according to the city.

The city came gathered community input and is now considering a list of recommendations. A priority is Indigenous-led place-making, which includes expanding and ensuring presentation and commemoration of Indigenous histories and cultures.

The golf courses are large pieces of land used by only those who play golf, and the city would like to increase access to golf programs for underrepresented groups such as low-income, newcomers, women, BIPOC, and 2SLGBTQ+ residents and the accessibility community.

Dentonia, Don Valley, and Tam O'Shanter all interrupt trails and multi-use paths through their ravine systems and the golf courses could be redesigned for more public access.

Multi-use arrangements, for example, could allow more access to Taylor Massey Creek trail ravine. The city would like to allow more winter access by creating natural skating rinks and trails on the courses.

There are also suggestions for tree planting and natural-area restoration with a focus on native species.

The need to manage that pristine-looking turf grass is tough on the environment though the use of fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, The Design Climate Action group wrote to council.

"The extensive coverage of turf grasses also contributes to biodiversity loss, and contributes to carbon emissions from the use of gas powered mowers," they wrote.

The Design Climate Action suggested these vast plots of land could be put to better use as community gardens and urban farm plots for use by local social enterprises. This would improve food security.

But while the city was considering changes to Dentonia, urban farms wasn't on the table.

A recommendation for the 18-hole par-3 course be redeveloped as a nine-hole par-3 golf course with improved practice amenities and space for park land was scrapped after councillors spoke out.

"Dentonia Park Golf Course is a unique and highly appreciated course for residents across the East End and Toronto, providing an affordable entry into the sport of golf. There are few courses in the country as accessible and affordable as Dentonia Park, which is situated on a subway line, in one of the most diverse communities in Toronto," Councillors Brad Bradford, Paula Fletcher and Gary Crawford wrote.

"Enhancing — not reducing — access to this special public course is vital for recognizing and building upon the benefits this City asset brings to many communities."

If approved at city council, the changes are still a few years away. The contracts for the existing operating mode at the city courses expire Nov. 30, 2022, with an option to extend for a further one year to Nov. 30, 2023.

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