The municipality is deciding what to do with a popular disc golf course about seven years after it opened in Lions Park. At issue is a debate over the use of public space. The six-basket course is spread out over park space that is considered passive when it should be on a program space.
The course was supposed to be taken down on June 30, although the municipality postponed this work. The Wood Buffalo Disc Golf Association (WBDGA) hopes the course will remain in place. As of Wednesday evening, a petition to save the course has 685 signatures.
“It would be a heartbreak to our club and all its members if it was taken down,” said Kyle Warren, president of the WBDGA, in an interview. “I’ve never really had any negative interactions with the public and when I talked to the Pulse Line, they said there weren’t any complaints.”
The goal of disc golf is for players to throw a plastic disc into a metal basket. Just like golf, the players throw from a designated tee area. The score is better with fewer throws to reach the basket.
There are a total of four disc golf courses in Fort McMurray, but the Lions Park course is the only one downtown. Warren says disc golf is a challenging and competitive sport that is also friendly towards seniors, children and people with physical disabilities. The club accepts everyone and does not hold tryouts.
Warren adds the course has brought people downtown, which has been a goal of the municipality’s downtown redevelopment strategy. The club collects data on use and has seen 18,500 registered players, including repeat visits, use the Lions Park course since 2017.
“I’m a bit of an ambassador for all four courses here and they’re all getting utilized,” said Warren. “In the evening, sometimes the majority of people in the park are throwing discs.”
Warren has been speaking with Mayor Sandy Bowman and Councillor Ken Ball about keeping the disc golf course at the downtown park. A brief Wednesday statement from the municipality said “the RMWB is working to find a solution that benefits all users of Lions Park.”
Ball said in an interview he personally has no issues with the Lions Park course as long as there are no issues with other park users.
“If there’s a way for it to coexist, I fully support it,” he said. “It’s well used. So how do we make it work? I get frustrated when some solutions are just remove everything. There’s gotta be some sort of relationship that can make the two work together.”
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