Corp Comm Connects

Aurora residents want less light on proposed Highland Gate trail

Trails, parks, naturalized space proposed for former Highland Gate golf course.
April 10, 2017
Amanda Persico

Plans to convert a portion of the former Highland Golf Club into a naturalized space, with trails and parks, faced resistance from the local community.

Recently, the town, together with a representative for the project, presented plans to convert the former golf course into a local amenity.

The public meeting held at the Aurora Senior Centre was packed with standing room only.

A number of Aurora councillors were also in attendance to hear comments, which will be part of a staff report expected in the coming months.

Many residents expressed concern over the proposed lighting along a new trail that stretches between Bathurst and Yonge streets.

Residents questioned the need for lighting, saying anyone on the trail at night would be up to no good.

According to the town’s parks and recreation director, Al Downey, the main east-west trail will be about three metres wide with light standards about 3.5 to 4.5 metres tall and about 30 metres apart, similar to Newmarket’s Tom Taylor Trial.

The LED lights will be on from dusk until dawn.

Many residents asked the town to reconsider, claiming lights would invite vandals and entice neighbourhood dogs to bark all night.

But having a lit trail is part of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) settlement agreement, Downey said.

The proposed new park space includes new bridges, a meditation circle, interpretative signage showcasing the area’s cultural heritage, fitness and stretching stations along the main trail and a playground.

The remainder of the 21-hectare site is to be converted into naturalized park land with plenty of trees of varying heights, sizes and ages, shrubs and wildflowers.

“The vision is a naturalized park,” said Mark Schollen with Schollen and Company, lead landscape architect for the Highland Golf project.

“We’re not planting lollipop trees. We’re not creating an arboretum, we want to create a landscape.”

As many trees as possible will be preserved and trees are being replaced at a rate of three-to-one, he added.

A number of trees were already removed to provide access to the ponds, which will be taken off-line and the watercourse rerouted as per the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.

Ash trees will be removed as a result of emerald ash borer.

The park plan includes using as much of the existing infrastructure that is in good condition, including pedestrian underpasses and golf cart paths to create a new trial system.

“There’s going to be very little new asphalt,” said Schollen. “Wherever we can, the cart path will be refurbished, reused.”

The existing path will be incorporated into the new proposed trail system.

The plan includes a 2.5 km main, illuminated trail that runs east/west from Bathurst to Yonge streets along with other 2-km, 3-km and 5-km trail loops.

The proposed playground area will consist of two age appropriate structures on rubberized surfaces and a shaded area with benches and seating.

If approved, construction could start fall 2017.


Residents are encouraged to comment on the proposed park plan.

Comments will be accepted until May 31.

For more information or to make a comment, visit