Like a frisbee spinning through the air, there’s no way to know where exactly an ongoing feud over a North Vancouver disc golf course will land.
In April, city staff reduced the size of a popular disc golf course in Eastview Park, as an interim measure to reduce the potential for conflict between nearby residents and disc golfers.
As the changes have significantly reduced the challenge of the course for experienced players, many of them have chosen to play elsewhere. Meanwhile, the measures haven’t deterred the players that cause problems in the park, residents say.
After the issue came to a head during a heated council meeting in February, municipal staff were directed to evaluate long-term solutions to make Eastview Park “a welcoming and safe place” for people of all ages and abilities, while considering possible relocation of the course.
The temporary re-configuration of the course involved removing three holes that were the “highest conflict areas,” as the play areas cross other park-use spaces, according to City of North Vancouver staff.
To inform any future changes to the park, staff launched a public engagement process in June, which included community workshops and an online survey. With that process complete, staff say they are currently conducting a review of the site and will report back to council later this fall.
Small minority causing majority of issues, councillor says
Unfortunately, the conflicts could not be ignored said Coun. Tony Valente, who brought the issue to council in February along with Couns. Don Bell and Angela Girard.
“I am convinced that there’s one or two out of 100 that are causing the issues,” he said.
At the same time, coming up with a solution is difficult when some people are completely unwilling to accept things in their community that they don’t like, Valente said.
“If you’re trying to be fair and accommodate as many different people in the community as you can, people just saying ‘No’ is really hard,” he said. “It’s usually about trying to find a compromise – that’s why I brought this forward.”
Relocation of the disc golf course in some form appears to have support from all sides of the debate, so long as it stays on the North Shore. Some of the councillors have indicated they won’t support any proposals that move the course out of the community.
“I don’t think that’s going to be a viable option,” Valente said.
Brendan Burge, whose property backs onto one of the course tee boxes, said he and other residents in the area had high hopes for changes made by staff.
“The one positive aspect is that the count of golfers has dropped by probably 60 to 70 per cent,” he said.
Previously, he could count 200-250 people on a sunny afternoon. Now, he sees anywhere from 30 to 50.
“A lot of golfers are really nice people,” Burge said. “They’re very respectful of walkers and so on. And then there’s what I refer to as the entitled group, they’d like all the rest of us to drop dead and go away.”
People from this group often smoke and drink on the course, he said.
“They don’t respond to any encouragement to behave properly. They play wherever they want. That group seems to have increased,” he said.
Given the park’s small size, Burge said he and the other neighbours feel it’s appropriate for the course to be relocated.
“The golf course, even though it’s now six holes, occupies easily two thirds of the park. There’s not a lot of space that a pedestrian or a dog walker can use,” he said.
‘Sucked the soul out of the North Shore disc golf community’
Reducing the size of the Eastview Park course sucked the soul out of the North Shore disc golf community, said Logan Nazareno, an avid player and organizer who lives in Lower Lonsdale.
“When you take a small nine-hole course and reduce it down to six, when you take all of the challenge out of the course, it just ceases to be a place where people that playing competitive disc golf want to come and play,” he said. “We go other places, and then we have to travel now across the bridge to courses either in Vancouver or in Burnaby and beyond."
Despite a community of enthusiastic players, there are just three courses on the North Shore. One is a short course near Rockridge Secondary School. The other is a respected, competitive-level course, but it’s at the top of Grouse Mountain and only open to pass holders.
There are plenty of places where new courses could be built, Nazareno said, listing Greenwood, Princess and Braemar parks as potential locations. But staff were “struggling” to come up with a budget for it, he said, and are also deterred by environmental concerns, such as removing underbrush to make way for disc golf holes. Nazareno said he’s also pitched the idea to the other local ski hills.
“We just have to wait and see,” he said.
No date has been set yet for the matter to come back to city council.