New Brunswick

Odell Park disc golf expansion opponents form new group

Some Fredericton residents are speaking out against plans to expand disc golf in the city's Odell Park.

Fredericton Coun. Kate Rogers says disc golf has proved to be popular in Odell Park

Some Fredericton residents are speaking out against plans to expand disc golf in the city's Odell Park. 

Fredericton's popular Odell Park. (Google)
Crews are cutting young trees and marking others inside the park with pink ribbons to make space to expand the disc golf course.

Darla Saunders, a biologist in Fredericton, said she has concerns about the city's plan to expand the disc golf space.

She said she wonders if the people cutting and marking trees for disc golf properly understand the forest.

"I've seen the area where the cutting is taking place and it's one of the best mature hemlock stands in the park.There's a very large amount of vegetation that's being removed and it's completely changing the character of the forest at that site," Saunders said.

The biologist said she has nothing against the idea of people playing disc golf in the park but she does not believe it is appropriate to cut down the trees.

"There may have been some damage from storm Arthur but through regeneration this area would have been renewed by young trees," she said.

Saunders says there are plenty of natural spaces in Fredericton where an 18-hole disc golf course would be appropriate. 

She started organizing a "Friends of Odell Park" group on Thursday.

Don Murray, the manager of parks and trees, confirmed this week the number of disc golf holes in the park is being increased to 18 from nine.

The city forester said some small trees and underbrush are being removed as well as trees that were damaged by post-tropical storm Arthur last year.

The work was approved in the city's 2015 budget, said Murray.

Disc golf has been popular

Coun. Kate Rogers said she would like to see more citizens engaged in decisions being made by the city. (CBC)
Coun. Kate Rogers said in an interview on Friday that Murray is very comfortable with the trees that are slated for removal to make room for the extra disc golf space.

Rogers said the disc golf has been a success in the city and the participants have been multi-generational.

"It has been so popular that we have decided to do the back nine," she said.

The idea of expanding the disc golf playing area, if it proved to be a success, has always been in the plan.

Rogers said the city held a public meeting when the idea of putting a disc golf course in Odell Park was first raised. She said it was clear from that point that an expansion was possible.

The city councillor said she welcomes the input from people in support of Odell Park.

"I think we are all open to have citizens having input in the decisions that we make," Rogers said.

Expansion opponents urge caution

Kirk Roach, another park user, said he is wondering how much care and consultation went into choosing Odell Park for expansion of disc golf in the city. 

Penny Pacey wants Fredericton officials to publicly state why trees marked with pink ribbons in Odell Park are being cut down. (Shaun Waters/CBC)
"Are there really that many people playing disc golf there? Is there any other place they could expand to?" he said.

"I'm totally for people being more active in New Brunswick, but maybe we should slow down a bit before we do something more drastic or where will it end?"

Penny Pacey, who came forward earlier this week to raise concerns about the extra disc golf space, said the park should not be used as a play area. 

Pacey said she believes the Odell family willed the forested land to Fredericton citizens as a space to enjoy nature.

"It is, I think, one of the unique things about Fredericton and probably in my opinion and probably in the mind of tourists, one the very best things about Fredericton," she said. 

"Maybe this is the coming thing and everybody's going to be playing disc golf, but I don't know anybody that plays. Seems to me that it could be a fad, but to me the forest isn't a fad. The forest is something that we hold in trust."