KAMLOOPS - It was a split vote but Kamloops city council has approved a multi-use facility on McArthur Island Park that includes an 18-hole disc golf course.
Council voted today, Jan. 29, to include both disc golf and natural areas in the McArthur Island Multi-Use Park project.
The debate had been heated for quite some time between the Kamloops Naturalist Club and the Kamloops Disc Golf Club both wanting to use the park for their own purposes.
In a report prepared for council the naturalist group had put forward a compromise to the disc golfers saying that they could facilitate a nine-hole course.
"This would allow for the inclusion of a Rotary Peace Park and Interpretive History Loop, adding much needed passive recreation space to McArthur Island and an important cultural element (a tourist attraction) to the overall design," the letter says. "It would also allow for the creation of a greatly expanded native plant walk."
However Ben Laidlaw, the disc golf club president, says a nine-hole course on would only serve half of the club's needs. They asked for the 18-hole course so that they could accommodate beginners and host tournaments in the same course.
"It would be tough to bring clinics for a beginner-friendly round," Laidlaw says. "And it would be impossible to host tournaments."
Council debated for some time but in the end it was a five-to-three vote in favour. Coun. Dale Bass was absent.
Jesse Ritcey with the naturalists club says they will continue working and advocating for the nine-hole compromise that was put forward.
"You can't go ahead when spending a million dollars when really only one of the groups is on board," Ritcey says. "They should facilitate a true compromise."
The city report said most of the existing disc golf courses in the province are in multi-use parks such as Quilchena Park in Vancouver and Raptor’s Knoll Disc Golf Park in Langley. City staff were able to speak with users of those parks, who reported being happy with the multi-use concept as it brings more families to the area and discourages undesirable activities.
With the city's approval, staff will implement the project using a phased approach over the next three years. The amount of work undertaken in 2019 would depend on whether or not the project is approved in the Supplemental Budget this February.
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