While the city tries to re-invigorate its golf courses, one city councillor thinks the city should get out of the business altogether.
On Wednesday, councillors Joe Magliocca and Sean Chu voted down a report that was presented at the community and protective services committee meeting. The report was an update on the changes being made to course operations to help with poor financial circumstances.
“I truly believe we should be out of the golf course business,” said Magliocca. “I know golf courses, they pay $200,000 in property taxes and [municipal courses] pay zero.”
Calgary’s courses are basic
Magliocca asked the city why it can’t be more competitive with the private sector by upping fees.
Greg Steinraths with the city said the municipal golf courses are considered “entry level” and if city courses raised fees as the break-even solution, each round of golf would have to go up by $15.
“A lot of people would take their purchasing power and go to the next course,” Steinraths said.
‘Drives me nuts’
Magliocca asked Steinraths why the city didn’t find contracting out golf course operations feasible. Steinraths responded that it was a labour code issue and labour relations — there is a statutory freeze in place because of ongoing union negotiations.
The Ward 2 councillor responded suggesting the city should “just fire” workers.
“That just drives me nuts,” Magliocca said. “That’s always the excuse I hear … you know, there’s ways to skin a cat.”
Although the city doesn’t have the capital cash to build clubhouses, councillors Ray Jones and Diane Colley-Urquhart hoped the city could find private sector partners to build facilities. Jones said this would help the courses earn more revenue from events in the winter.
The City of Calgary operates eight golf courses and three driving ranges at six locations. These generate a total of $10 million in “direct economic activity” every year.
Golf courses in the city used to generate their own annual revenues and contributed $3.6 million every year while also self-funding $14 million in capital improvements for the courses that were operating.
But in 2012, council changed the mandate.
Courses and driving ranges became tax-supported and were injected with $430,000 to $964,000 in annual support from the city — that’s about four to nine per cent of operational costs.
Now, administration is looking to make the courses break even, and eventually pocket up to $1 million in cost efficiencies, site optimization opportunities and revenues by 2022.
Administration is planning six strategies toward that goal:
- Re-opening the newly-renovated and revitalized McCall Lake 18-hole golf course.
- Adjusting fees in 2019, subject to One Calgary budget deliberations.
- Introducing a new booking process called the Golf IT solution in early in 2020 to help increase attendance and revenue.
- Finalizing debt commitments.
- Standardizing operational practices between golf courses.
- Contracting out a selection of services.
According to administrators, these tweaks will yield $1 million in cost savings by 2022.
Other money saving ideas already in swing
In 2014, a motion endorsed by councillors introduced a demand-based fee structure along with other money-saving moves like contracting out the course mowing. According to a document, these changes already helped courses rake in more dough.
Other options administration will look at in the future include:
- New capital investments.
- Future partnership opportunities with industry leaders to help better utilize municipal golf assets.
The report presented on Wednesday will go before council. Administrators are asked to report back by the second quarter of 2021 to give councillors another update on how all of the tweaks are working.
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Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area. It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary, generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road). Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.
Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016, Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.
Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton. The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.