Expansion of Beaches Disc Golf Course Reveals Divergent Opinions on Space Use in Public Parks – Beach Metro Community News

by | Nov 16, 2021 | Golf Courses

The extension of the Beaches Disc Golf Course in the far west of Woodbine Beach in Ashbridges Bay Park. Photo by Alan Shackleton.


The location of a disc golf course in Ashbridges Bay Park has raised the question of how public land should be used.

Beaches Disc Golf Course recently added nine additional holes to its park layout, most of which are located in an area on the far west end of Woodbine Beach, behind the volleyball courts.

A letter sent to Beach Metro News last week by Clyde Robinson, a member of Ashbridges Bay Nature Stewards, asked why there was no public consultation or announcement about expanding the disc golf course and questioned the area in which it was built.

“As local naturalists and listening to naturalists, especially bird watchers, in today’s all-inclusive world, we all wonder why there was no advice?” read the letter.

He said that many in his group are questioning the location for the expansion of the disc golf course because it is in an area that is becoming more and more naturalized.

“A few years ago I was thrilled, and I assume that other nature lovers or like-minded people, especially bird watchers, have seen that the previously well-kept beach has been changed to let nature take its course,” says Robinsons Letter.

The disc golf course is made up of metal bars that indicate the locations from which players should throw their discs (or frisbees) onto other metal bars that hold chain baskets that are the target.

The masts for the extension were placed in the area at the west end of Woodbine Beach, which Robinson’s letter is concerned about as he fears it could lead to increased pedestrian traffic and trampling, which could affect birds and the habitat.

Beaches-East York City Councilor Brad Bradford told Beach Metro News it was aware of these concerns.

“My office heard from a handful of community members about the additional disc golf courses being added to Ashbridges Bay Park,” he said. “Initially there was some concern because they were new and there wasn’t much information on how or why they were included.”

Bradford said the city of Toronto communications about the construction of the disc golf course extension could have been better.

“Understandably, people wanted to know if there was any due diligence and careful planning before they stepped in,” he said of the metal rods for the course. “To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of communication and that can make the city as a whole better and I work hard on it every day.”

The additional holes for the course are an extension of the original Beaches 9-hole disc golf course, which opened in November 2018. The layout for these holes is mostly at the north end of the park, closer to the parking lots and Lake Shore Boulevard east.

The course and addition were designed by the Beaches Disc Golf Course, but the course itself is on the grounds of the City of Toronto and is a recreational facility offered free of charge by the parks department. Beaches Disc Golf Course has also designed courses in other Toronto parks and the Scarlett Woods Golf Course.

Beaches Disc Golf Course is a member of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), which displays its code of conduct for players at every teeing area. The Disc Golfer’s Code includes “no litter, graffiti, or misuse of equipment or flora”.

Bradford said the area where the disc golf extension is located on the beach is not considered a protected natural area by the city of Toronto.

“To be clear, the area in question is part of the natural beach landscape of Ashbridge Bay Park and is neither protected nor closed to anyone. It’s already a well-used section of the leash-free dog area that will exist from November 1st to March 31st, “he said.

Disc golf has steadily grown in popularity over the years, but exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic as people desperately searched for activities to participate in outdoors.

“Thousands of rounds have been played and people from all over the Beach neighborhood have joined the (disc golf) community,” said Jeffrey MacKeigan, Beaches Disc Golf Course organizer and Ashbridge Bay course designer.

It was this popularity that led to the desire to add nine more holes to the disc course layout at Ashbridges Bay Park, from both the City Park Department and the Beaches Disc Golf Course.

“Many residents of the Beach neighborhood have expressed how helpful this class was not only for their physical health, but also for their mental health and well-being, especially during the pandemic,” said MacKeigan. “Given the increasing use and interest and benefits people experience from playing, the idea of ​​expanding the space was an obvious solution.”

He said it was the city that determined the location of the disc golf course extension. “In building this course, we complied with every request from the City of Toronto.”

Erin Whitton, Toronto city media spokesperson, said the parks department is seeking feedback from the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) before deciding on the location to expand the disc golf course.

“The park staff used the framework set out in our beach management plan and asked the TRCA for feedback. We also take into account existing amenities and long-term beach remediation plans, ”she said.

“Parks, Forestry and Recreation works closely with our partners at TRCA to ensure that Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) are properly maintained and protected. While this particular area is not an ESA, we are working hard to balance the recreational needs of local residents with the protection of natural areas. For example, the sand dunes east of Ashbridges have been fenced in to encourage the development of the sand and beach ecosystem, ”Whitton said.

And it is the balance between recreational use and the protection of natural areas that has come to the fore when the Ashbridges Bay disc golf course was expanded.

In his letter, Robinson said that park users’ rights to enjoy the great outdoors must be part of this balancing act.

“People come to Ashbridges Bay Park from all over Toronto not only to see birds, but to just take a leisurely stroll through the park,” he said. “As COVID has proven, we all need time to relax, to get to nature and to switch off. Some people call this forest bathing. I was told that the city wants to create recreational activities for the people. That’s okay, but what about nature-loving people who enjoy their own activities? “

Whitton said the Beaches Disc Golf Course was one of the ways the city of Toronto provided amenities and recreational activities to residents during the pandemic and beyond.

“During the pandemic, Parks, Forestry and Recreation worked to increase the outdoor amenities and services available to encourage Toronto residents to have fun and stay active. This particular area is a dynamic beach environment that is open to all park users. “

In his letter, Robinson said that expanding the disc golf course will have an impact on the area in which it is located.

“If this course is allowed to stay, why have the interests of non-disc golfers been neglected? I also find it strange that this area, after being returned to nature, is now being trampled down by this disc golf course with the misguided disc throws of your players. “

Bradford said that no plants or trees were removed and “existing wish-line paths were used” in the area where the course extension was built.

He said the disc golf course does not preclude others from using the parking space or for passive enjoyment of the area.

“The area is still open to dog walkers, pedestrians, bird watchers and anyone currently enjoying the site,” said Bradford. “There are no plans, and there will never be, to fence in or limit the space. There are no plans to mow or remove the naturalized area and the site has been designed so that the area can still be naturalized. The newly planted trees can mature undisturbed. “

He added that it is also good for the safety of people and the natural environment at Ashbridges Bay Park when people use the area for positive recreational experiences.

In addition to a boon for recreational activities, huge crowds also came to Woodbine Beach and Ashbridge’s Bay Park this summer to attend large parties and gatherings of illegal alcohol use, fireworks, loud music, outdoor fires, and huge amounts of trash.

“City officials cleared up the collection of beer cans, liquor bottles, and general rubbish during the course’s installation,” said Bradford. “Overall, the disc golf community will help keep the area clean and leave it in a safer and cleaner condition than before.”

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