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Councillors want more meetings with public over golf course

Feb 02 2012
Jack Trueman, Bill Hosie and Derek Johnston finish teeing off at the 16th hole at Cedar Hill Golf Course on Monday. The municipality of Saanich is wrestling with ways to cut its losses on the course, one of the few low-cost courses in the capital region. 

Jack Trueman, Bill Hosie and Derek Johnston finish teeing off at the 16th hole at Cedar Hill Golf Course on Monday. The municipality of Saanich is wrestling with ways to cut its losses on the course, one of the few low-cost courses in the capital region.

Photograph by: Adrian Lam, timescolonist.com

Four Saanich councillors will ask the council to strike a committee to study the future of Cedar Hill Golf Course and to hold more targeted public meetings to deal with the deficit at the municipally owned course.

The motion by councillors Dean Murdock, Judy Brownoff, Vicki Sanders and Vic Derman will go to council Monday night.

Murdock said it became clear this week, after more than 300 people packed a Monday night meeting, that there is great public interest in the future of the course, a fixture in the municipality for 80 years.

The golf course and its restaurant were projected to lose $820,000 in 2012. Saanich decided last month to close the full-service restaurant and replace it with light refreshments, but that still left the problem of the golf course, which is losing taxpayer money.

Saanich parks and recreation management held Monday's meeting to gather input from the public. The "town hall" style is not conducive for people to have a chance to speak, let alone express all their thoughts, Murdock said. Several meetings, perhaps with specific topics for each one, might be a better way to gather help from residents, he said.

The motion calls for "a facilitated public engagement process that includes all stakeholders to look at the Cedar Hill Golf Course facility and develop a long-term strategy for its operation."

Meetings and the formation of a committee should take place relatively quickly, to take advantage of the current interest and to find a solution so taxpayers' money isn't wasted, Murdock said.

There is a great deal of expertise and creativity among Saanich residents on how to deal with the problem and smaller meetings would allow that to be more easily communicated to staff, he said.

Saanich holds a budget meeting on Tuesday, at which the golf course will be discussed. Another venue is being sought, instead of council chambers, given the turnout at this week's meeting.

kwestad@timescolonist.com

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