The District of Kitimat through a council motion has approved $100,000 to go to the Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club.
The payments came in two separate approvals of $50,000, and the deal will eventually give the District of Kitimat land owned by the golf course.
Council had voted at a September 29 closed meeting to give the golf course $50,000, as an advance on an Agreement in Principle for them to continue operating the club, a motion which as well would mean the District acquires surplus lands around the facility.
On October 6 in a closed meeting council approved an additional $50,000 for the club. That came after the club said the additional money would be needed to hire an Operations Manager to make the golf course viable again.
Mario Feldhoff said the addition of new land to the District of Kitimat is welcome.
“This would be an extension of the greenbelt and it is something that I think would help the golf course and at the same time help the city with our strategic plans,” he said at the November 3 council meeting.
The specifics of the land to change hands hasn’t been firmly set.
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Warren Waycheshen for the District of Kitimat said through e-mail that the two sides are still working out the details.
“At this time the specified parcels of land (or portions) the District will receive and the purchase price has not been determined,” he wrote. “The land obtained in a final agreement will increase the green belt land that the District of Kitimat currently owns and is able to use for other purposes. “
Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club President Robin Lapointe said the operations manager they have hired using the money from the District will be setting a plan to get the club self-sustaining once again.
Lapointe said that earlier in the year after the new board took over he extended the operating loan for the golf course to $200,000 but it still wouldn’t be enough to get a new manager.
“Based on our asset value, I have no problems going after a $200,000 operating loan,” he said, but added with the projected fiscal shortfall, “we could not honestly go out and hire a manager knowing we won’t be able to pay him before the start of the next golf season.”
The golf club executive was very happy to entertain talks about exchanging land for money, he said.
The amount of land the golf course owns, said Lapointe, was likely a matter of land transfers at the golf club’s formation that avoided triggering subdivisions, leading to such large plots.
Now the golf course does have a manager who will set a priority list for the board to review in the near future.
“It’s not going to happen overnight, but the idea is to become a governance board so we can actually govern and put some kind of vision to the golf course where it’s sustainable,” he said.
Lapointe says he has hunches about how the club may operate moving forward but he wants all the suggestions to come from their manager.
Meanwhile the board has adjusted their fee structure and are now selling club memberships, in addition to activity fees for curling or golf.
The idea is so there is always a core group of paying members.
“There seems to be this attitude where ‘maybe I won’t be a member this year, next year I’ll be a member.’ Well people don’t realize they’re making a big assumption,” said Lapointe. “One of the things that this bad experience has done is say ‘hold it, maybe that club won’t be there.’”
He added, “There has to be that core membership.”