City committee backs study of private golf course industry in Calgary

A city committee supports looking into the state of the private golf course industry. Calgary has seen three private courses closed for redevelopment proposals in the past six years.

Proposal goes before city council July 24, however there's no money in the budget yet

A city committee is supportive of studying the private golf course industry in Calgary, however that could cost upward of $150,000 to implement. (CBC)

A city council committee supports the city looking into the state of the private golf course industry.

Calgary has seen three private courses closed for redevelopment proposals in the past six years.  Another course has opted to sell off some of its land to help preserve the rest of the course.

The city says it could cost up to $150,000 to hire external consultants to do a report and take two city employees to oversee the issues related to private golf courses.

The report would examine the state of golf in Calgary, issues surrounding redevelopment as well as taxation and assessment concerns for the courses.

One councillor questioned the need for the city to get this involved in the issue.

"There's been a ton of research done around golf courses. Why wouldn't we just go buy a report?" Coun. Evan Woolley asked at the Community and Protective Services Committee meeting on Wednesday.

Calgary 'unique' for golf

The answer was that while there have been national studies done, Calgary is a unique market given how many courses there are here.

There are 17 private courses in the city as well as six publicly-owned courses.

Woolley was unconvinced of the need.

"I just don't think that this is really a top priority in the priority of things we have going on right now," he said.

Coun. Richard Pootmans said whether Calgarians golf or not, many people see value in the greenspace provided by the courses.

That attachment has been on full display during public hearings held when redevelopment proposals come to city council for approval.

"Is that greenspace of use to all citizens living in Calgary? Do all residents derive some value from that space? I think they do," said Pootmans.

He said it's possible the city could find a way to cut the cost of a study by doing all of the work in-house.

Report could assist council

Besides potentially coming up with guiding principles for redevelopment proposals, the study would also examine ways of seeing what can be done to help private golf courses survive financially.

The general manager of community services, Kurt Hanson, told the committee data and information could help city council in the future.

"[Are] there other ways to support these golf courses? Through a different taxation model, through a different approach?" said Hanson.

"This is information that will lead us to a point to understand that situation, to make more effective recommendations to deal with it."

The committee approved the proposal and it will go to city council on July 24.

However, there is no money for the project in this year's budget.

If council approves the study, money for the work would have to be included in the 2018 budget which will be discussed this November.