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Pilot putt turns into long distance drive as disc golf society gets nod on course location

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
June 25th, 2021

The city’s disc golf society hit a hole-in-one shot in their effort to establish a permanent location for their sport in Nelson.

The Nelson Disc Golf Society (NDGS) has gained city council approval to officially install a nine-hole disc golf course at Art Gibbon Memorial Park after a pilot period of one year proved to be successful.

“I was really pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of the citizen concerns that were brought forward early on didn’t materialize,” said Coun. Jesse Woodward.

“It was lovely to see and it was actually integrated into the community.”

The approval signifies an end to a search for a permanent home for the sport within city limits that stretched over several years.

The pilot program was designed in order to allow for a better understanding of the impacts of having a disc golf course at the Art Gibbon Memorial Park, said city director of Public Works, Colin Innes, in his report to city council.

There were several potential problems associated with the proposal at the outset, including an increase in traffic in the neighbourhood, safety issues with the flying discs in a recreational park and parking.

But a Granite Pointe traffic study found that expanded activity on the site would not lead to additional traffic concerns.

“During the trial period, there was no observed increase in neighbourhood traffic that can be attributed to disc golf activity,” wrote Innes in his report.

Over the course of the last year there were no reports received regarding anyone being struck with a disc from the disc golf activity. As well, signage was installed to remind disc golfers of the presence of trails adjacent and beyond the area of play.

The course was also designed to eliminate potential conflict with the bike park, the skatepark, and the future playground and eliminated the possibility of any blind throws.

The only parking issue identified was a person parking longer than 72 hours in the pull-out area along Choquette.

“There is no way to determine that this issue is in relation to the disc golf course,” said Innes.

There were also no noise complaints stemming from use of the park, and there was no “queue” of disc golfers waiting on a tee time.

“While total numbers are not known as the course is free play and does not require tee times, the observations of staff were that while the course was well-utilized, usage seemed to be well balanced and did not result in congestion in the park,” Innes explained.

Community feedback

There were letters from those living in Rosemont near the park that were opposed to the disc golf course.

There was a petition in opposition to the establishment of the disc golf course that was circulated and generated nearly 40 signatures.

“Art Gibbons Park is also a relatively small park, with walking paths, hiking and nature trails extending throughout. It is far too small an area to safely accommodate a disc golf course along with existing activities and users. If a disc golf course were to be installed at Art Gibbons, especially considering part of the forest is utilized as a bike park, it would effectively remove the park from all other passive recreational uses.”

– City staff observation: The concern did not appear to have manifested during the trial period. Disc golf has been able to integrate into the activity of the park without displacing other uses.

“Although some community opposition exists, the concerns raised by these residents appear to be unfounded based on observations during the pilot program,” a city staff report noted.

Taking it to the next level

Now that the park becomes the permanent home of the disc golf course, additional improvements will be made including fortifying the tee boxes and installing additional signage.

The equipment that has been installed to date will be donated to the city.

The Nelson Disc Golf Society has paid $10,000 to cover the costs associated with the purchase of equipment and installation. However, the city will cover the costs of additional signage to be installed throughout the park.

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