Converting golf courses into public spaces featuring houses, recreation centres and playgrounds has often come up across cities in Canada. It is always a topic that brings about lively debate.
Toronto’s Mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat recently proposed turning three money losing municipal golf courses currently into green spaces free to be used by the public.
These include Don Valley Golf Course, Scarlett Woods Golf Course and Dentonia Park Golf Course.
If she had her way, these three sprawling green spaces could one day be transformed into parkland, arts and cultural hubs, sports fields, outdoor skating rinks or the sites of new community centres, among other things.
The mayoral candidate says what is often pointed out that these golf courses are open just half the year and are used by a very small number of Torontonians. Converting these tax-funded golf courses into public spaces would allow taxpayers to actually make use of much need facilities.
These proposals look fantastic on paper and sound good on the campaign trail, however, there is also plenty of resistance to any proposal to convert green spaces into anything else including public recreational facilities.
This opposition often comes from residents of the area who fear loss of privacy, noise and an end to the relative isolation they enjoy in the middle of a bustling city.
Keesmaat is also aware that these golf courses are connected to ravines or form part of naturalized lands that could prohibit the city from any plans that involve building activity.
Toronto’s 2018 to 2026 capital plan has identified $9.7 million in improvements needed for municipal golf courses, amid declining usage. These improvements include upgrades to building roofs and windows, sanitary fixtures, pavement, mechanical and electrical systems and irrigation.
Meanwhile incumbent mayor John Tory has outright dismissed the proposed idea stating that he would be opposed to any plan that involves building upon green spaces in an increasingly crowded city.
He also didn’t think the city needed more green spaces to give way to high rise condos that are going up across the city.
But in the years to come, it is evident that the city could do with fewer golf courses and more cricket pitches for example. Many golf courses across the GTA are not being optimally utilized leaving owners to ponder selling off the valuable real estate and put it to some other use instead.
Glen Abbey in Oakville comes to mind. The city of Oakville earlier this year nixed ClubLink it’s owners to turn the course into a mix of 3,200 residential units, office and retail space. -CINEWS