Multiple user groups competing for space at former McArthur Island golf course

By Chad Klassen
November 30, 2017 - 3:11pm Updated: November 30, 2017 - 5:32pm

KAMLOOPS — It's been more than a month since the McArthur Island golf course reverted back into city hands, and city continues to listen to public feedback on possible uses of the old golf course.

Jesse Ritcey and other members of the Kamloops Naturalist Club are taking a walk on the former McArthur Island golf course. They all have ideas as to what the city should do with the now vacant property.

"We'd like to keep it natural, bring in more passive recreation, group activities, classes," said Ritcey. "We don't really have a dedicated nature centre in Kamloops. That's something other communities have. Williams Lake has Scout Island, there's Allan Brooks [Nature Centre] in Vernon. Basically everyone has one. We don't."

The club also points out there's no such passive recreation available on the North Shore, and McArthur Island is busy with sporting events as one of the faces of the Tournament Capital brand. 

"I think the key idea to me is it's in the North Shore, it's easily accessible to people on the North Shore," said fellow naturalist club member Allan Vyse. "There's a lot of people who don't drive. This is somewhere that people can get to, and they can take advantage of the natural setting."

The club would like to make it a destination for education, either for people passing by or school kids on field trips. The idea is to teach people about the animal species in and around the park.

"All-ages education," noted Ritcey. "We're on the river, which is the Cottonwood Riparian habitat. Very threatened, very sensitive. So we could do interpretive signs, wheelchair accessible pathways."

But the Kamloops Naturalist Club has some competition from other user groups. The Kamloops Disc Golf Club believes it's a great destination for a second course in the city to complement the current one on Rose Hill. 

"There's about 17 acres here, and typically you want about an acre per hole for a championship-level disc golf course," said disc golf member Ben Laidlaw. "It's unique in that you've got a clubhouse, you've got all the facilities, bathrooms, water, and it's right in the core of Kamloops."

The disc golf club also contends setting up the course would be cheaper than some other options. 

"We already have all the baskets and tee pads, everything you need to install a course," noted Laidlaw. "All we really need would be signage, and we wouldn't be altering the land."

The club hosted provincials this fall and would want to attract a North American tournament, but it says another championship course is a necessity. 

The naturalist club would like to see the area remain as it is and allow people walking around McArthur Island to have another space to be closer to nature. 

Kamloops residents wanting their say on the future use of the former McArthur Island golf course land can attend two open houses in the next week. The first is this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Northills Shopping Centre near the Interior Savings Credit Union. The second is next Wednesday, Dec. 6 at the McArthur Island Sports Centre from 5-7 p.m.  

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