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Dawson Creek’s disc golf course gets pushback from neighbours

Neighbours say better setbacks would defuse tensions with disc golfers
Daniel Martin, head of the local disc golf club, gives a demonstration on the lawn of City Hall in 2014.

Neighbours living next to Dawson Creek’s new disc golf course say they’re tired of discs landing in their backyards and strangers walking their fence lines. 

Tensions mounting between a pair of landowners and the Dawson Creek Disc Golf Club spilled over into Dawson Creek City Council Monday. Eight residents of the 1400 block of Chamberlain Drive have signed a petition asking the city to relocate the 12-hole course or take other steps to keep discs—and golfers—out of their backyards.  

City officials say they’ll meet with golfers and residents in the coming weeks to try to find a solution. 

Disc golf club organizer Daniel Martin set up a temporary course in Barbaree Park in late 2014, eventually installing metal baskets to catch discs after council approved a permanent course. 

Since then the sport has grown in the city. The local league now counts 32 full members, and Martin says around 50 people play the course each week. City staff noted disc golf has become especially popular with low income people because it is relatively inexpensive. 

But the growth in the sport has meant headaches for nearby residents like Chris Ward and John Van Oort, who say they’ve had to deal with golfers trespassing in their yards.  

Ward said he isn’t opposed to the course, saying he just wants larger setbacks from his fence line. 

“It’s not NIMBY,” he said of his stance on the course. “If they just moved back 200 feet it’s a done deal for me.” 

Martin said Ward’s presentation to council left him confused, saying he's worked with the city to remove a basket that involved a straight shot at the neighbour’s fence line. As far as he knew, the issue was resolved. 

As for trespassing, he said he’s spoken with two younger golfers who hopped a fence to remove a disc. 

“They’re teenagers and they shouldn’t have done it,” he said. “I make an effort to contact everyone and give them the etiquette of the course. We tell everyone ‘no trespassing.’”

Van Oort told council Monday that he also had concerns about being injured by flying discs, citing a course in California where a woman was struck.  

However, Chief Administrative Officer Jim Chute said that as far as the city’s insurers are concerned, disc golf is no more dangerous than any other activity permitted in city parks. 

He said the Municipal Insurance Association considers disc golf a “very low-risk” activity. When the city added disc golf to its parks insurance, the association “didn’t add anything to our premium because in B.C., none of the communities have ever had (an insurance) claim on disc golf,” Chute said.  

As of Monday, council appeared unlikely to remove the disc golf course. 

Mayor Dale Bumstead said the city would meet with the homeowners and the club to try to develop tweaks to the course.