Keesmaat proposes overhaul for three under-utilized city-owned golf courses

While both frontrunning mayoral candidates John Tory and Jennifer Keesmaat planned to serve meals to the homeless on Thanksgiving Monday, Keesmaat fit in a campaign stop earlier in the day, calling for a major overhaul of three under-utilized city-owned golf courses.

Don Valley Golf Course, Scarlett Woods Golf Course and Dentonia Park Golf Course have been operating at a loss, and Keesmaat says a better solution would be to transform these spaces so they are accessible to the public 365 days a year at no fee. 

"[The golf courses] are only accessible for a fee, and not only that - they're only used half of the year," Keesmaat told reporters at Rouge Park Monday morning. "We have this incredible opportunity to use our city-owned resources to ensure that we're creating spaces for new arenas, and cricket patches, and bike trails, and skating rinks, and cross country skiiing trails."

In a news release sent out Monday morning, her campaign cites the city's 2018-2026 capital plan - which has put aside approximately $10 million to improve the underused spaces. 

"I've proposed today to initiate a process to work with communities to ensure that these are spaces that are accessible and available to everyone in our city," she said. 

She says this proposal is a perfect example of her campaign, which is about change, and that we need to look to the future. However, when asked if any portion of these courses would be sold off to developers, she did not rule it out. 

"In some instances, we might want to use where the current clubhouse is or the surface parking lot to build a new building of some type," she said. "That would need to be determined through a community consultation process."

Still, many of the city's golf courses are part of ravine or naturalized lands, or part of the Toronto Region and Conservation Authority lands. As a result, she says under her plan, "the objective needs to be [to] ensure that we use this land as places for people, that we use it for park space."