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Restaurant at Cedar Hill Golf Course wins public's acclaim

Feb 08 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

Passions ran high Tuesday night at a special Saanich budget meeting to discuss the future of the Cedar Hill Golf Course and its restaurant, which are both losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

No decision was made on the future of the municipally owned facility. Another meeting to gather public input is scheduled for Feb. 21 at the Garth Homer Centre, beside Saanich Municipal Hall.

The restaurant and the course are projected to lose more than $800,000 in 2012, about $500,000 of that from the restaurant.

The council decided last month that the restaurant losses were too much for taxpayers and announced it would scale it down to a light refreshment service on Feb. 18.

On the golf side, council asked for public input on how to deal with the deficit from the course.

About 250 people turned out for Tuesday's meeting at Colquitz Middle School.

As many people spoke about the closure of the restaurant as about the golf course.

Several asked why the decision to close the restaurant was made in camera by council, without asking for public input on how it could be improved.

Many described the restaurant as a key part of their daily routine, yet said that many people had no idea it existed.

When the restaurant's chef stood up to speak, he was given the loudest

round of applause of the night.

We need to run that place as a real restaurant," said Dino Clarkson.

"Advertising isn't done, there's no signage. We're out of sight, out of mind. There's no signage on the walking trails or even on the building itself."

Since media coverage about the impending closure, the restaurant has been twice as busy, mostly with people who previously did not know it existed, Clarkson said.

For the golf course, municipal staff has recommended an increase in cost for green fees and for annual passholders,

with a gradual reduction in total permitted rounds for the passes.

That would see green fees increasing from $35 on a weekday to $40.60 on a weekday in 2012, increasing to $45 by 2014.

An annual pass would rise from $1,350 in 2011 to $1,417.50, almost $68.

Cedar Hill Golf Club president Val Mieras said the club can support the price increases, but not the reduction in rounds for annual pass holders.

The cut in the number of times a pass holder can play per season will result in fewer people buying the pass, which is money the municipality can count on, Mieras said.

"Taking those rounds away from pass holders does not mean they will be replaced by green-fee players," she said.

Others, too, said green-fee players can easily choose from other courses as they have no particular loyalty, even though

Cedar Hill is the least expensive golf course in the region.

kwestad@timescolonist.com

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