by Timothy Schafer on Tuesday November 12 2019
Give it a year.
Three hundred and sixty-five days is the make-it or break-it time frame bestowed upon the Nelson Disc Golf Society (NDGS) to prove to the city and the Rosemont neighbourhood that the sport can co-exist in peace with the denizens of Art Gibbon Memorial Park.
The society has asked for — and on Monday night in city council meeting received — permission to install a nine-hole disc golf course in the wooded area of the park, which also features the city’s skate and bike park, and an area set aside for a playground.
Many city councillors spoke in favour of the creation of the course, but the one-year trial basis was the bait on the hook that reeled in council’s support.
“I know it’s been contentious for residents around this area, and there’s worries and concerns, and I really understand that,” said Coun. Jesse Woodward.
“But I feel like any way we can get kids out in the woods, being active, getting good hand-eye coordination, the better for our society as a whole.”
Coun. Keith Page also agreed with Woodward.
“The power of this is that one-year trial, that ability to work with the community and work with the proponent to put something in place that for one year we can see (how it works),” he said.
The proposal was also supported by the regional district’s Recreation Commission No. 5, as well as through letters from the City of Cranbrook and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary describing how a disc golf course benefited their communities and how shared use was possible.
Letters of support had also been received from Blewett Elementary School and School District No. 8.
Any concerns raised by people from the neighbourhood have been adequately addressed by the NDGS, said city Parks and Public Works supervisor Craig Stanley, as was reflected in the modified proposal.
“Allowing the installation of a disc golf course at Art Gibbon Memorial Park would provide a course for disc golf enthusiasts while introducing another outdoor recreational activity to others who may not be familiar with disc golf,” said Stanley.
And the survey says …
In performing their due diligence, the society conducted an online survey — and staged a community consultation session at Rosemont School — to which 290 people have responded, with 65 per cent of those from Nelson (38.8 per cent from Rosemont and 39.2 per cent from Uphill).
Of the respondents, 74 per cent were in favour of the creation of the course and only 13 per cent not in favour of it.
However, thecity has received approximately 24 electronic letters from residents in the Rosemont area that are opposed to the proposal and believe that the installation of a disc golf course “will negatively impact the park and the surrounding area,” said Stanley.
“Specific concerns include that the disc golf course could increase traffic to the neighborhood, create safety issues, cause a parking shortage and increase noise and congestion in the park,” he said in his report to council.
In addition, two petitions in opposition of the disc golf proposal have also been submitted to the city sporting 180 unique signatures, largely comprised of people living in Rosemont.
The course, of course
The proposal for the park first came forward in February but was modified to address concerns over site usage, layout of the course, safety considerations as well as cost and who would be installing the course.
Art Gibbon Memorial Park was identified by the NDGS as the best possible site within city limits for this activity due to the variety of the terrain and the forest setting, and the proximity to parking and other amenities, Stanley pointed out.
In order to accommodate all users of the park the nine holes on the course have been designed with shorter fairways, emphasizing finesse over power.
“As a result, players will not have to throw the discs with much force, reducing the risk that players and bystanders might be struck by a disc,” said Stanley.
With the level of passive and active recreation already occurring daily in the park, adding in a disc golf course “will not create a greater hindrance or disturbance to the natural environment,” nor will the expected amount of disc golf players overload the parking lot or the streets around the park, Stanley said.
A traffic study conducted for the area concluded that the course would have a minimal impact on traffic on Richards Street West and Choquette Avenue.
On any given day there could be up to 25 people playing on the course, the society contended, but the expectation is that usage would generally be spread out over the course of a day.
Other plan modifications
And in consideration of the Rosemont School outdoor education sessions, the NDGS will provide bags to temporarily cover the baskets to eliminate baskets during the outdoor education sessions.
The costs for the installation of the disc golf course baskets and teeing areas will be picked up by the society (approximately $10,000), but the city will have the ability to alter or adjust the disc golf course at any time and regulate the activity if necessary.
“If the course is deemed to be suitable after the one-year trial, the equipment would be donated to the city,” Stanley revealed.
The city will oversee installation of the course and provide regular maintenance of the area, including garbage collection and regular inspections for safety and functionality.
Parking it here
Rosemont Park was first purchased by the city in 1978 and a bylaw was enacted to “reserve certain lands within the City of Nelson as a park, and for recreation purposes pursuant to the provisions of the Municipal Act.”
Opponents of the proposal have also raised questions regarding the history of the park and limitations on use, suggesting that disc golf may not be permissible, Stanley noted in his report.
“Staff researched this matter and found that the land was purchased by the city with the intention of making it a park,” he explained. “Staff has not found any indication that usage at the park is limited in any way that would preclude the installation of a disc golf course.”
Stanley said the city’s parks bylaw does not prohibit flying discs in any park, only the playing of traditional golf (with clubs and balls).
— Source: City of Nelson