Beach Golf Range set to close

Though they always knew the day would come, the owners of the Beach Fairway Golf Range golf practice facility at Victoria Park and Gerrard are hoping for an 11th hour solution after the city served notice that their lease would not be renewed after Oct. 31 this year.

Owners Kim Holman and Brian Jacobsen set up shop on the land, on the south side of the train tracks just east of Victoria Park Avenue, in the spring of 1999, and opened for business in August of that same year. Holman pointed out that the facility is the only one of its kind that is readily accessible by transit in the southern part of the city.

“We’re the last true green grass golf facility south of the 401,” she said.

When Holman and Jacobsen signed a 10-year lease in 1999, they knew that the city would want to develop the land at some point in the future. What they didn’t necessarily expect was how much their customers, who travel from Parkdale, downtown, the Beach and west Scarborough to use the facility, would come to rely on the range.

“While it’s no surprise to us that the city has desires to develop this land, because we understand that it is valuable land, the real problem is that we have over 60,000 visits each year and those people don’t have a viable option to go to once this facility is closed,” said Holman. “By no means did we ever think that this would be a forever program.”

Among those 60,000 visits in 2011 were users from 65 groups that get discounted rates, including schools, community centres, day camps for kids, Variety Village, Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers and mental health groups. The range employs seven adults and last summer employed 14 students, and Holman and Jacobsen have made $25,000 in charitable donations on behalf of the range.

Holman and Jacobsen recently met with city councillors Gary Crawford and Mary-Margaret McMahon, as well as representatives of Build Toronto, the agency in charge of developing the land. McMahon said she’s hoping the city might be able to find a new location for the range, although the current location is ideally close to transit.

“It’s more than just a driving range, it’s a community hub,” McMahon said.

Holman said she just wants to find a solution for the thousands of regular users of the range, including the 2,000 who have signed a petition over the past two weeks in support of the range.

“We are totally fine, but what are we going to do with our customers? They don’t have another option,” said Holman. “While I understand that the land is valuable, there’s got to be some value in taxpaying Torontonians who come here for health and recreational and entertainment reasons.”

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It is a shame that a privately run recreational facility is going to close. I see teenagers going there with bags over their shoulders and am happy that they are going there as opposed to….?
This is something that probably does not cost the City of Toronto much (or anything) to administrate.
So what is going to go there…condos? We were running short of them.

Here is an example of private citizens, residents of Toronto, providing a terrific low-cost recreation opportunity for people from five to 85, where a grandparent can treat grandchildren for 12 bucks or less, and it pays rent to the city.

The likely response will be something like the city expropriating an acre next to Dentonia, paying a million bucks for it, staffing with union workers at $24 / hour plus overtime and benefits, restricting use to certain hours, and then closing at five pm due to noise complaints.

This is a great shame as I use it regularly when I am over from the UK to visit family who live nearby. Does that make me the user who travels the furthest??

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