The owners of the Beach Fairway Golf Range are meeting with the city’s top brass in a last-ditch effort keep their business open.
Brian Jacobsen and Kim Holman, husband and wife owners of the driving range at Gerrard Street E. and Victoria Park Avenue, are facing closure after their lease was not renewed for the 2013 season.
The land their business sits on was city-owned when they began a 10-year lease back in 1999, but it was declared surplus in 2006 and is set for transfer to Build Toronto, an arm’s length agency that looks to develop underutilized city property.
Build Toronto is preparing to conduct an environmental assessment to allow for a remediation of the property, which is a brownfield site.
“We have worked to accommodate the range this year, but once the season is over we have a lot of work to do to put a program in place,” wrote Bruce Logan, Build Toronto’s vice-president of corporate affairs, in an email.
The plan is part of a larger regeneration and eventual redevelopment of surrounding former quarry land properties, some of which are owned by private developers.
Though they’ve been aware for six years the land could be put to other use, Holman says they don’t want to leave.
They started an online petition to gain community support, and have a meeting with the mayor’s office scheduled for July 16 to discuss the matter.
“I’m trying to appeal on behalf of the 5,300 signatures that we’ve received so far, that they want a golf driving range there, not development,” Holman said.
No other driving range south of the 401 offers their range of services, she said, adding they provide a recreational benefit to the city.
“They don’t have to pay a dime to maintain us,” Holman said of her for-profit enterprise. “We actually turn around and give them revenue in the rent and property tax that we pay.”
Local councillor Gary Crawford, who worked out a lease extension for Beach Fairway for 2012, says the future of the 3-hectare driving range property must be viewed within the context of the larger, wide-sweeping redevelopment plan set to take place in the area.
“It’s not just that small parcel of land that Build Toronto has … it’s the rest of the land that is there,” Crawford said. “I have a responsibility, as does Build Toronto and the city to look at the entire piece of property and ensure the right kind of development.”
Crawford said he understands the driving range is well utilized and generates visitors from all over the city. His office is working with the owners to see if there’s another place to locate, he said.
Holman is open to relocating, but has not seen any real strides on finding an alternate spot thus far, she said.
Ultimately, she’s hoping Build Toronto will focus its efforts elsewhere for the time being, she said.
“Build Toronto can go into its big portfolio of properties and find something else that is underutilized,” Holman said. “They should be able to put their thinking caps on and find another piece of property that they can turn around and make money on and leave the one that’s servicing the taxpayers alone for now.”
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