City-Operated Golf Course Review

Alex Lavasidis,
Senior Public Consultation Coordinator,
Parks, Recreation, and Forestry

Re: City-Operated Golf Course Review

Dear Ms. Lavasidis,

FoNTRA is pleased that the City of Toronto is reviewing the use of its City-operated golf courses. We believe that it is important that publicly-owned green spaces in the city be available to a wide range of residents.

City-operated golf courses use a considerable amount of land, in some cases in locations that stand in the way of connecting Toronto’s park and trail networks. However, they are currently available only for the single purpose of playing golf, and at a fee. Golf is a worthwhile sport that encourages physical outdoor activity, and we have no wish to make it unavailable to those who want to engage in it, especially given that City-operated courses offer access to this sport at below market cost. However, as several of the City’s courses are strategically located in Toronto’s ravine system, we should consider how they might dovetail with trail-based activities, and offer recreational opportunities in places near to nodes of high population, with few other recreational opportunities.

With continuing development and increasing population density in many parts of the city, and given the difficulty and cost of adding any publicly-owned green spaces to the City’s inventory, it is crucial that existing green spaces be used to their best capacity, both to make parkland available to residents, and to improve the connectivity of the trail system. The recent pandemic has shown just how vital it is to Torontonians to have public park and trail space readily available.

In some cases, current City-operated golf courses cut off natural connections between trails. We note, in particular:

  • the Dentonia golf course, which blocks the continuation of the Taylor Creek trail to Scarborough
  • The Don Valley golf course, which occupies one of the few locations where people can walk or cycle under Highway 401 in a comfortable environment, and cuts off connections between the trail systems north and south of the 401. Were the Don Valley golf course open to hikers and cyclists, one could follow the West Don from Hogg’s Hollow to Steeles. And if access to the private Rosedale golf course could be arranged, then hikers and cyclists could travel all the way from Lake Ontario.

In both of these cases, FoNTRA advocates making multi-use trail connections across the publicly owned courses to open them up to all users. The other three City-owned courses should also be reviewed with a lens as to whether they can contribute to the trail network. We hope that the City of Toronto will take advantage of this opportunity to open up these valuable spaces to a wide variety of residents, while maintaining facilities for those who enjoy golf.

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cathie Macdonald
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cc: Janie Romoff, General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division
Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning Division 
Kerri Voumvakis, Director, Strategic Initiatives, City Planning Division
Directors, Community Planning, TEY and North York