P.E.I.'s plan to sell golf courses moving ahead

The P.E.I. government is moving forward with its plan to lease or sell its provincially run golf courses.
The Dundarave River Golf Resort is one of four the province wants to sell or lease out. (Golf PEI)

The P.E.I. government is moving forward with its plan to lease or sell its four provincially-run golf courses, all of which are losing revenue.

The courses up for sale or lease are all tied to Rodd Resorts — Mill River Golf Course, Rodd Brudenell River Resort, Dundarave River Golf Course and the Links at Crowbush Cove.

Requests for expression of interest will be going out Saturday in advertisements in the Globe and Mail and Guardian newspapers.

Any submissions will be non-binding and tender calls could go out after that.

The number one priority in the whole process is to ensure the best interests of Islanders are protected, according to Tourism Minister Rob Henderson.

"We just think this is an opportunity to see what actual interest is out there. And it's a fundamental decision whether government should be in the golf industry," Henderson said. 

Last year, the Department of Tourism invested $1.4 million into Tourism P.E.I. to help cover the courses' losses.

The government tried to sell the courses in 2009, but low bids forced it to wait until the economy improved.

On Friday, golfers were praising the links.

"Well I don't think they can do anything better with the courses themselves. They truly are in great shape," Dan LeBlanc said.

"If they lose this, I think they're losing something quite significant and quite nice," Peter Besen said.

In the meantime, the province says it is taking steps to try and minimize its losses while it still owns the courses. Dunderave, for example, the biggest money loser of them all, will be shutting down a few weeks early this year.

"Well there's probably too many courses on the Island right now, but every course in North America seems to be losing money. It's just what's happening with the finances in the world," Besen said.

"It's an overall challenge, when it comes to so many opportunities to play golf and such a short season. So no real silver bullet suggestions," LeBlanc said.

If the province doesn't make a deal, it will continue running the courses.