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Cedar Hill Golf Course consultation process unclear

Feb 23 2012

How public consultation on Cedar Hill Golf Course costs will be carried out is not yet clear, but it should be by the end of March, Mayor Frank Leonard said Wednesday.

Leonard said the consultation with course-user groups and the public "isn't going to look like a royal commission."

The consultation is part of a motion that passed after a fiery public meeting Tuesday night about how to deal with a $300,000 deficit in golf course operations at the municipallyowned Cedar Hill course.

"It will be treated like any other rec centre where managers resolve operational issues with users and the public, and we [the council] look at the bottom line once a year," Leonard said.

Val Mieras, president of the Cedar Hill Golf Club, said what the consultation will translate to is a mystery to many who attended the meeting, and they are not happy.

"I can tell you the consultation I have been involved with was a total sham and Saanich administration did not really care what we thought. I'm very disheartened."

Hundreds of residents attended three public meetings, held after Saanich council decided unanimously and in camera to close the golf course restaurant.

It was estimated to lose $521,000 in 2012, so council voted to reduce its full service to a "grab-and-go" style. The restaurant closed its doors last Saturday.

The council said it was done in camera because it dealt with personnel issues.

Since then, the three public meetings held to allow public input on municipal staff recommendations on how to deal with the $300,000 deficit have grown increasingly tense between the public and the council, and also among the politicians.

The council split 5-4 on Tuesday in favour of a motion to raise fees at the golf course over the next three years, and to decrease the number of rounds pass-holders can have over the spring and summer. The motion also called for the director of parks and recreation to "engage golf users and the public to discuss how the operations can best meet customer and community needs in the context of the Cedar Hill deficit reduction strategy."

But the motion came with little clarity on how the engagement would happen, said Coun. Dean Murdock, one of the four who voted against it.

He asked that staff report back to council on how the engagement would take place, but that was dismissed.

"I'd like to be able to go to the community and tell them we have a public process in place for engagement and that it may not be perfect, but it's a start," Murdock said. "I can't do that with this motion."

kwestad@timescolonist.com

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