The Beaches Disc Golf Course extension to the far west of Woodbine Beach in Ashbridges Bay Park. Photo by Alan Shackleton.
By ALAN SHACKLETON
The location of a disc golf course in Ashbridges Bay Park has highlighted the question of how public land should be used.
The Beaches Disc Golf Course recently expanded its layout in the park to include nine additional holes, most of which are located in an area at the west end of Woodbine Beach, after the volleyball courts.
A letter sent to Beach Metro News last week by Ashbridges Bay Nature Stewards member Clyde Robinson asked why there had been no public consultation or notice on the disc golf course extension and said questioned the area in which it was built.
“As a local naturalist and listening to the nature community, especially bird watchers, in this all-inclusive day, we all wonder why there hasn’t been consultation?” the letter read.
He said many in his group questioned the location of the disc golf course extension as it is in an increasingly naturalized area.
“A few years ago I was thrilled, and I guess other nature and like-minded people, especially bird watchers, saw that the once-well-maintained beach was being changed to let nature take its course, ”Robinson’s letter said.
The disc golf course consists of metal poles indicating where players should throw their discs (or frisbees) at other metal poles supporting chain baskets which are the target.
The extension poles have been placed in the area at the west end of Woodbine Beach that Robinson’s letter is of concern to him as he fears it could lead to increased foot traffic and trampling, which could have a impact on birds and their habitat.
Beaches-East York councilor Brad Bradford told Beach Metro News he is aware of the concerns.
“My office heard from a handful of community members about the additional disc golf locations that have been added to Ashbridges Bay Park,” he said. “Initially there were concerns because they were new and there was not a lot of information on how or why they were put in place.”
Bradford said communication from the City of Toronto could have been better regarding the construction of the disc golf course expansion.
“Naturally, people wanted to know if there had been due diligence and careful planning before entering,” he said of the course’s metal poles. “To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of communication and that’s something the city can do better as a whole and something that I’m working hard to address every day.”
The additional holes for the course are an extension of the original nine-hole Beaches golf disc course which opened in November 2018. The layout of these holes is primarily 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 City of Toronto property and is recreational equipment provided free of charge by the Parks Department. The Beaches Disc Golf Course has also designed courses in other Toronto parks and in the Scarlett Woods Golf Course.
Beaches Disc Golf Course is a member of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) which publishes its code of conduct for players at each teeing area. The disc golfer code does not include “litter, graffiti or abuse of equipment or flora”.
Bradford said the area where the beach disc golf expansion is located is not considered a protected naturalized area by the City of Toronto.
“To be clear, the area in question is part of the natural landscape of Ashbridges Bay Park Beach and is neither protected nor off-limits to anyone. off-leash dogs that exist from November 1 to March 31, ”he said.
Disc golf has grown in popularity over the years, but has exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic as people desperately searched for activities they could participate in outside.
“Thousands of rounds have been played and people have joined the (disc golf) community across the Beach area,” said Jeffrey MacKeigan, Beaches Disc Golf Course Organizer and Ashbridges Bay Course Designer.
It is this popularity that has led to the desire to add an additional nine holes to the disc course layout at Ashbridges Bay Park from both the City Parks Department and the Beaches Disc Golf Course.
“Many residents of the Beach neighborhood have expressed how helpful this class is, not only for their physical health, but also for their mental health and well-being, especially during the pandemic,” MacKeigan said. “With the growing use and interest, and the benefits people are getting from the game, the idea of expanding the course was an obvious solution. “
He said it was the city that determined where the expansion of the disc golf course would be located. “In constructing this course, we have complied with all requests made to us by the City of Toronto. “
Erin Whitton, media relations spokesperson for the City of Toronto, said parks service staff sought the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) for comment before determining the location of the expansion. disc golf course.
“Parks staff have used the framework set out in our beach management plan and sought feedback from the TRCA. In addition, we take into consideration existing amenities and long term beach renovation 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 a SEZ, we are working hard to balance the recreational needs of residents with the protection of naturalized areas. For example, the sand dunes east of Ashbridges have been fenced to encourage the development of the sand and beach ecosystem, ”said Whitton.
And it is the balance between recreational uses and the protection of natural areas that has come to the fore with the expansion of the Ashbridges Bay disc golf course.
In his letter, Robinson said that the rights of park users who come to enjoy nature must be part of this balance.
“People come to Ashbridges Bay Park from all over Toronto to not only see the birds, but just to relax in the park,” he said. “As COVID has proven, we all need time to relax, be with nature and relax. Some call this forest swim. I was told that the city wanted to create recreational activities for people. That’s good, but what about nature-conscious people who enjoy their own activities? “
Whitton said the Beaches Disc Golf Course was one of the ways the City of Toronto was providing residents with amenities and recreational activities during the pandemic and beyond.
“Throughout the pandemic, Parks, Forestry and Recreation has worked to increase the outdoor amenities and services available to encourage Torontonians to have fun and stay active. This particular area is a dynamic range environment open to all park users.
In his letter, Robinson said the addition of the disc golf course will have an impact on the area in which it is located.
“If this course is allowed to stay, why weren’t the interests of non-disc golfers taken into consideration? I further find it strange that this area, after being brought back to nature, is now trampled by this disc golf course with the stray discus throws of their players.
Bradford said no plants or trees had been removed in the area where the course extension was built and “the existing lanes of the Desire Line were used”.
He stated that the disc golf course does not exclude the use of the park space by others or for passive enjoyment of the area.
“The area is always open to dog walkers, pedestrians, bird watchers and anyone who currently enjoys the space,” Bradford said. “There is no plan, and there never will be a plan, to enclose or restrict the space. There are no plans to mow or remove the naturalized environment and the course has been designed to allow area to continue to naturalize Newly planted trees can mature without any interference.
He added that having people using the area for positive recreational experiences would also be good for human safety and the natural environment of Ashbridges Bay Park.
In addition to a boon in recreational activities, this summer also saw huge crowds coming to Woodbine Beach and Ashbridges Bay Park to participate in big parties and gatherings with illegal drinking, fireworks, music. strong, open fires and massive amounts of garbage.
“City staff teams cleaned up the collection of beer cans, liquor bottles and general waste during the course setup,” Bradford said. “Overall, the disc golf community will help keep the area cleaned up and leave it in a safer and cleaner condition than before.”