Park proposal for the city’s old golf course is accepted, despite player objections

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London golfers are considering the proposal to turn a large swath of a former city-owned golf course in the east of the city into a park.

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But the town hall’s direction for the former River Road golf course – including plans to investigate selling around 15% of the property for future industrial or residential development and keeping the rest for spaces Greens – is unchanged after a board committee reviewed a staff report on Tuesday.

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City politicians questioned bureaucrats at the Community and Protective Services Committee about a future sale, the potential for new housing on the site and the condition of golf course equipment, as golfers have watched for the public gallery.

We are basically recoto fix further study towards the highest and best use (of the land),” City Hall real estate boss Bill Warner told the committee.

These studies will take place before a decision to sell portions of the site is presented to City Council in the next term. Tuesday’s city staff report was provided merely for the information of politicians. Council is not being asked to make a decision based on current plans.

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A handful of golfers have written letters to the city council criticizing the decision to close the course or questioning future plans.

City of London-owned golf courses have operated on a ‘golf pays for golf’ system where user fees and other revenue cover costs. Two others are still working.

“Millions of potential revenue for the municipal golf reserve fund have been lost,” Stuart Watson wrote to politicians, saying the course had a lot of potential to generate money for city coffers.

Another golfer, Angus Johnson, urged City Hall to seek ideas for the course from area residents.

District 1 Com. Michael van Holst, who represents the area, asked if accommodation could be built on the 54-hectare (133-acre) property.

“It wouldn’t make a very good location and site for housing,” Warner said of an analysis by the city’s housing team.

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Much of the land is not suitable for development due to wetlands and woodland.

The staff recommends a large “district park,” similar to Springbank or Gibbons parks, as well as bike paths and walking paths.

The River Road clubhouse burned down in November 2021 and the wreckage was later demolished. Arson charges against a former city employee were later dropped.

City Treasurer Anna Lisa Barbon said any remaining equipment, such as the irrigation system, would be used on other city land.

Van Holst also asked for more information about the future of the City of London-owned golf system. River Road was losing money, backed by the other two municipal courses, and faced $6 million in major repairs when the council opted to permanently close the course.

Golf is not on the agenda today, just land,” Ward 5 Coun. Maureen Cassidy, who chairs the committee, told people in the public gallery after the debate.

Thank you for coming, and I’m sorry if you were expecting anything more, to talk about golf.

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  1. Golfers are featured at the former River Road Golf Course, which was owned and operated by the Town Hall, in east London.  (File photo)

    It was a city-owned golf course. It can now become a “district park”

  2. A pile of rubble is all that remains of the clubhouse at the former River Road golf course in east London on Monday April 25, 2022. (Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press)

    Fire-ravaged River Road Golf Club collapses

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Michael C. Ford