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Public views on golf course losses sought

Jan 28 2012

Cedar Hill golf course is expected to lose $300,000 this year and Saanich is looking for ways to deal with the deficit.

Saanich parks and recreation management is holding a public meeting at the course at 7 p.m. Monday to ask the public for suggestions. The parks and recreation department will take recommendations to council Feb. 7.

The restaurant in the golf club is being closed, because it too was losing money, a projected $521,000 in 2012.

Closing the golf course is not on the table, but taxpayers cannot be expected to continue paying for a municipal facility that is losing money, Mayor Frank Leonard said. Each round of golf costs the municipality $30, while the average revenue is $24 per round Leonard said.

"We're committed to having affordable golf as part of Saanich's recreation," Leonard said. "Our recreation managers believe we can make some changes here to get it closer to break even."

Changes could include an increase in fees, fee restructuring or different management models, said Doug Henderson, director of Saanich parks and recreation.

The golf course has been losing money for several years, largely because of increased competition from other local courses and a soft economy.

An independent consultant's report three years ago warned about potential additional losses if changes were not made.

"We've almost hit the worstcase scenario," Leonard said.

While the municipality wants to keep to a principle set by former reeve Hugh Curtis - that recreation, including golf, should be affordable - taxpayers cannot be expected to continue subsidizing it, Leonard said.

"It's hard to be squeezing all our departments, which we are doing in this economy, and still have this red ink at the golf course," Leonard said.

The course has many fans and the meeting could be heated.

"It's not an easy subject because people are quite attached to the course. The regulars consider it their golf club and are quite proud of it," Leonard said.

kwestad@timescolonist.com

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