Long-running dispute between North Vancouver residents and disc golf players reaches city council
Residents called for removal, relocation of disc golf course at Eastview Park
"For me, it's watching the disc fly."
Chris Vance is describing his favourite part about disc golf, which he plays a couple of times a month in Eastview Park.
"It's the best thing in the world — the things you can make them do, especially in the woods like here in Eastview."
The heavily-wooded park in North Vancouver is home to a nine-hole disc golf course.
But mounting complaints from nearby residents mean Vance, and other disc golfers who frequent the park, may soon have to play elsewhere.
Earlier this month, members of the community voiced their concerns about safety, garbage, the smell of cannabis smoke, overcrowding and bad behaviour — including urinating in public — from disc golf players in the park.
Complaints started coming in during the COVID-19 pandemic when the sport, also known as frisbee golf, grew in popularity and more people started visiting the disc golf course, which opened in 2009.
"It's not a case of … if an accident is going to happen — a child gets injured — it's when it's going to happen," said resident Gordon Moore during the Feb. 6 city council meeting.
Another resident, Lindsay Mabel, cited the "slow and steady degradation" of the park due to increased foot traffic off designated paths, and the behaviour of some disc golfers.
"Discs are being thrown carelessly all over the park, and many times without the due care and attention of the individuals walking on the pathway that encompass the park," she said.
They're calling for the removal and relocation of the park's disc golf course.
'We're very aware of the neighbours' concerns'
The North Shore Disc Golf Club acknowledges there have been problems.
Athal Christie, a board member of the club, says the number of people playing in Eastview has "exploded" since the pandemic began, and admits there can be too many people for the park's size.
"We're very aware of the neighbours' concerns, and we want the park to be appreciated and usable for everyone," Christie told CBC News.
"So we're really willing to work to keep the disc golf going, primarily for some of the younger players."
Disc golf players say the park is ideal for young players and people who are new to the sport.
Vance says the park's small size helps.
"Me and my friends, we're adults, playing hard and throwing far," Vance said. "[Eastview] is more technical … the kids can see the basket from the tee pad, so it's much more fun for them."
Vance says the complaints have been conflated with other issues, and that disc golfers are "very respectful" in general.
"There's a couple of people that are a little unhappy, and a couple of disc golfers that aren't following the rules."
Dirk van Renesse, another Eastview regular, says the majority of players are aware of potentially hitting passersby.
"When they throw, they're cognizant — nobody wants to hit anybody," he said.
Making parks accessible a priority: councillor
North Vancouver City councillor Tony Valente also acknowledged the issue of safety, noting the presence of a nearby elementary school and seniors home.
"It's part of our priorities in the city to have parks that are accessible for all people, and it feels like right now we haven't quite struck that balance in this park, and that's what we're trying to address," he told CBC News.
Coun. Angela Girard said they're considering modifying the existing disc golf course or relocating it to another park.
Council staff are set to make recommendations for ways to address the issue in the coming months.
For van Renesse and Vance, it would be disappointing to have the disc golf park closed or relocated.
"But if they did find another location that wasn't going to be controversial, that the walkers won't have any kind of safety issues [around], I wouldn't be averse to that," van Renesse said.
- A previous version of this story described Eastview Park as a Lynn Valley park, located in the District of North Vancouver. In fact, it is located in the City of North Vancouver.Feb 20, 2023 6:55 PM PT
With files from William Burr