Disc golf course could fly in Aurora if residents agree

by | Dec 10, 2021 | Disc Golf

Aurora Council is considering a proposal for a nine-hole disc golf course in a future park for the Highland Gate community as part of the 2023 capital budget

If you have a good aim, get a little exercise, and want to keep social distance, disc golf might be the sport for you – and Aurora could be when residents give the go-ahead.

Aurora Council is considering a proposal for a nine-hole disc golf course in a future park for the Highland Gate community as part of the 2023 capital budget.

A disc golf course for Aurora was first suggested by proponents of the sport last year.

The aim of the game is to use a Frisbee-like disc to shoot the disc into a “hole” (more like a cone on a pedestal).

It was introduced as a fun and safe recreational opportunity in the face of the global pandemic, and received preliminary support from the council.

What has proven more contradicting, however, is the proposed location, with fee payers in the Highland Gate community expressing some concerns about the sport getting into their backyards.

“Investing in a disc golf course goes beyond finding land and building the course, as there are several other factors that can determine whether a course is used extensively by the community,” said Erin Hamilton, Sports and Entertainment Community development specialist for the city of Aurora in her report to the council, which recommended adding the nine-hole course in the Highland Gate community to the 2023 capital budget.

Hamilton considerations included getting the right signage, marketing, and making sure the community was involved.

“Building community awareness and providing adequate education about the sport and course can have a positive impact on usage rates,” she continued. “Some communities involved in research have not invested in promoting the disc golf course, which has resulted in a low rate of use. Knowledge of the disc golf course is based on word of mouth. A well-planned and executed communication campaign across the city’s canals can raise awareness and interest in order to reach more people. In addition, the opportunities to educate the community through introductory courses where they learn about disc golf and learn some basic skills can encourage its use. “

But community buy-in could already be a stumbling block when it comes to making disc golf a reality in Aurora.

Staff recommend future parklands in the Highland Gate community as a preferred location if a course is properly approved by the council. Other locations considered were the Aurora Community Arboretum and its associated Lambert Willson Park, but these were retired as making space for the park would displace naturalized areas in these green spaces.

While Hamilton noted that adding a disc golf course as a convenience is an idea that should be brought to the Highland Gate Rateepayers, city councils said last week that these residents are already making their positions clear.

“Some residents of Highland Gate have communicated with the city council [this week] and they have some concerns, ”said Councilor Rachel Gilliland. “The resolution says [staff] will be in conversation with them, so I would like this to continue. “

Likewise, Councilor John Gallo, who said he could not support moving forward without further input from residents.

“We have already received some correspondence from this community stating that they have not been contacted,” he said. “We can move it forward, but not until we have significant communication with the community that would be most affected.”

City Council Gallo tabled an amendment to the tabled motion to ensure that Highland Gate is only selected as the preferred location, “subject to additional consultations with fee payers,” a move supported by the council.

Off-site discussions were also held about how a potential disc golf course could be calculated and operated, as well as identifying a need for the sport outside of the upcoming update of Aurora’s Master Recreation Plan.

“Most of the models that existed across the province were owned and operated by the city,” said Robin McDougall, Aurora’s director of community services. “There are some private establishments, but most of the time when you go towards a private establishment they usually charge a fee. If we look at the possibilities and recommendations related to community ownership and operation, we could be moving in a direction that it is a playground … and it would allow us to have access to a recreational activity that would incur no costs for the residents compared to a private facility. “

But the council urged to make sure there was a demand.

“I think since we are creating this master plan in 2022, it would make sense to wait until we do a review to see if this is in demand in the community,” said Councilor Gilliland. “We all know that we don’t have the space for different areas and other things. Maybe through this we will discover that pickleball or cricket or some other sport could be something exciting. “

Councilor Michael Thompson added, “I would understand the operating model a little better if I had a better understanding of operating costs. The report said the community would take full responsibility for the construction and maintenance of the course [but] there is an indication of the cost of capital to build … and no impact on ongoing costs. “

Staff replied that running costs – like cutting grass – would depend on the location selected as well as the number of holes in a course, but the council agreed that more information was needed.

“From what I know about Aurora, we don’t have a lot of land to house disc golf, especially nine holes, and I think the Highland Gate property is the only place we can house this,” Councilor Gaertner said. “The residents of Highland Gate have gone through so much renovating the property and it would be really respectful to discuss this with them first before we proceed.”

Brock Weir is a government-funded reporter for the Local Journalism Initiative at The Auroran