The Beach Fairway Golf Club is saying goodbye and thanks.
After concerted efforts this summer to convince the city to allow them to keep their driving range operating at Gerrard Street E. and Victoria Park Avenue failed, husband-and-wife owners Kim Holman and Brian Jacobsen are set to close up shop for good on Oct. 8 — Thanksgiving Day.
“We think it’s very fitting that it’s Thanksgiving Monday because we feel thankful for the 14 years that we have been here,” Holman said.
The community is invited to join them for a farewell party, with recreational activities and food throughout the day. In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, part of the proceeds will go to fund Variety Village.
Though they’re disappointed to be leaving, Beach Fairway’s departure from the east-end neighbourhood has been a long time coming. In 2006, the city-owned land upon which it is located was declared surplus, and is set for transfer to Build Toronto, the arm’s length agency charged with redeveloping underutilized city land. For years, the city continued to grant the golf range lease extensions, but it was not renewed for 2013 and Build Toronto is now moving in to conduct an environmental assessment and cleanup of the brownfield site.
The 3-hectare property is part of a larger parcel of land known as the Quarry Lands, which is slated for a massive residential and retail redevelopment.
When news of the closure first surfaced, the community rallied around the golf driving range; the pair garnered 7,000 signatures in support on an online petition.
In July, the pair was set to plead their case to Mayor Rob Ford, but his office had to cancel in the wake of a mass street shooting in Scarborough. The meeting was not rescheduled.
“I don’t think anything would have changed, but it would have been nice to have that opportunity,” Holman said.
When it was clear they wouldn’t be able to stay, Holman told city officials they were willing to re-invest the business in another location in the area. A city staffer looked into potential sites in Scarborough and the Port Lands area, but ultimately nothing came of it.
Holman and Jacobsen did not entertain the option of moving the business to the north or west part of the city.
“Our intention was to maintain a golf driving range for our current customer base who really needs this facility,” Holman says.
She says no other driving range south of the 401 offers their range of services adding that they provide a recreational benefit the 60,000 clients each season. That clientele includes local schools, charitable and community groups.
With all options exhausted, Holman is putting a positive spin on a disappointing outcome: She and her husband plan to take it easy for the time being after so many busy summers operating the for-profit enterprise.
“This is a new phase in our life where we’re just going to slow down and spend time with our kids,” she said. “We’re looking forward it.”
The community is invited to come by for free golf tips, food and other range activities. Mini-golf proceeds and $2 from each bucket will be donated to Variety Village. The range is open on Monday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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