Kingswood Park has been a natural park site in St. Albert for 30 years. This park, ideally located near Riverlot 56 and the Sturgeon River, offers a setting for families to enjoy a wide variety of activities. What you don’t see in Kingswood Park is any playground equipment, or a ball diamond, or even a soccer pitch. Its wide-open spaces offer all a grassy location to enjoy picnics, kite flying, wedding ceremonies, live music and the fantastic trail system that encircles the entire park. And of course, in winter, excellent cross-country skiing is available and cared for by the great stewards at STANKS. Moose, deer, and coyotes are right at home in this park each day.
Unfortunately, on Sept. 13, a majority of St. Albert city council members voted in favour of changing all of this by directing administration to prepare designs and plans for the development of an 18-hole disc-golf course in Kingswood Park.
I have nothing against disc golf. As city administration shared with council, it’s a fast-growing, low-cost sport enjoyed by people of all ages. But with this decision, council has effectively wiped out one of the last natural recreational park areas in the city and, by doing so, no other park users of any kind will be able to enjoy Kingswood Park without significant conflict.
Disc golf requires an extensive game-play area and will turn the park into one large playing field, not allowing shared use for other park users or enjoyment of walking trails and picnic areas because of the widespread nature of the game. Kingswood Park users will now have to find somewhere else to enjoy a space that does not already have some form of sports programming.
Not one member of council asked administration about the impacts to other park users if a disc course is implemented.
If this is what council would like to see become of park spaces in St. Albert, perhaps it should now consider adding downhill karting or a zip line at Seven Hills, boating on Lacombe Lake Park, or how about an 18-hole mini-golf course through the Botanic Park?
It's open season on natural spaces in St. Albert. Does every park space in our botanical arts city need infrastructure for recreational activities to make it worthwhile?
Parking will be an issue as the sport grows in popularity. Traffic safety will be a concern as some of the proposed disc-golf holes run parallel to Sir Winston Churchill Avenue, where shots by amateur disc throwers will no doubt end up.
Clearly, the best location for a disc-golf facility in St. Albert is Rotary Park, alongside the existing playground, rugby, football, and soccer fields, rodeo grounds, and BMX track. There is zero impact to residents with adequate parking, transit, and nearby food and beverage services available.
Initial consultation for the Red Willow Park concept, which I was a part of 30 years ago, deemed Kingwood Park to be a natural winter park area.
This final meeting of the 2017-2021 city council and its decision to move forward with disc golf in Kingswood Park is regrettable. I’m hopeful the incoming council will take a much stronger position against the overall cost (up to $100,000) and the appropriate location for a disc-golf course.
Jeff Bertram, St. Albert