Central Park: Free winter golf worries reader

The park board has approved a plan to allow free golf on the citys pitch and putt courses during the winter months as a way to save money.

Until now those courses were staffed year-long, which didnt make a lot of sense, particularly when it can rain in Vancouver for a month or more at a time. (The board has also cut back on maintenance where it can, so Im assuming therell be savings there as well.) The park board has been losing $200,000 annually on the operation of the pitch and putt courses at Queen Elizabeth Park, Stanley Park and Rupert Park, and a staff report claimed it could save half that amount by not staffing the attractions during the winter. These courses arent fenced to keep the public out, so its not like golfers will voluntarily stay away even if theyre closed.

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But a reader emailed me to say hes concerned giving the public free run of those courses in the winter will mean a dire need for repair to get them ready for warm weather use. He suggests by closing the courses for months at a time, revenues will drop giving the park board an opportunity to claim theyre no longer viable. And that, he says, could open the door to privatization.

As I reported last week, despite the fact the courses were staffed and open from November 2012 to February 2013, there were 84 days when no green fees were purchased. Staff recommended the courses run seasonally with free access during the winter, weather permitting, saving an estimated $100,000 annually.

Fraserlands clean-up

A small volunteer group I wrote about last year is continuing its efforts to clean up the path that runs along the railway tracks on Kent Avenue near Jellicoe Street, south of Southeast Marine Drive.

Much of the shared pedestrian and cycling path is so overgrown with weeds its become a narrow strip of packed dirt hardly wide enough for a single jogger. Almost six years ago, longtime resident Gillian Lunde weeded a small section across from her home. The last time I spoke with Lunde she had weeded and planted 27 lengths of the fence that divides the pathway from the railway track that run adjacent to Kent Street.

The good news is more neighbours have come on board with the project and have formed the ad hoc group Take Back the Path, which is holding a work party this Saturday (April 13) from 9 a.m. to noon. The goal is to weed out as many dandelions as possible before they spread their seeds.

Those interested in helping should bring gardening tools and gloves. Check the Fraserlands Community Gardening Group out on Facebook.

sthomas@vancourier.com

twitter.com/sthomas10

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