Toronto’s deal to preserve green space by using golf courses keeps out the unwashed masses

Toronto’s deal to preserve green space by using golf courses keeps out the unwashed masses

Fore! Political sand trap ahead (Image: Guiri R. Reyes) 

Councillor Adrian Heaps and the Toronto Star have found the outrage of the day (well, the second one): apparently, a number of Toronto-area golf clubs are getting a sweet deal on their property taxes as part of a decades-old agreement with now-defunct cities.

As of the end of last year, more than $30 million has been lost in potential property tax revenue thanks to a decades-old agreement between the city and nine Toronto clubs — none of which are open to the public….

In the late 1950s through 1960s, Ontario enjoyed an unprecedented development boom. Green space was being bought up by developers at record pace. So the former cities of Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, Toronto and York struck a deal with a handful of local links.

Back in the day when the 401 was being carved out of wheat fields, the dwindling green space must have been alarming. Toronto seems to have managed somehow, and in 2010 the city actually owns five different golf courses, which are open to the public. It doesn’t take a hatred of brandy snifters and monocles to think that this policy has outlived its usefulness.

Even if Toronto didn’t own the courses it does, there’s a question about for whom, exactly, the city is trying to preserve green space. Put another way, what’s the point of preserving private green space at public expense? Unless, of course, the city would like to write a cheque for us to keep our backyards green. In that case, no questions will be allowed.

Now quiet down, plebeians, before we release the hounds.

• Councillor teed off at private club tax deal [Toronto Star]