Calgary

5 Chestermere golfers hope to buy course to stave off redevelopment

Ownership tells CBC News it doesn't consider the offer serious and plans to continue with redevelopment

Posted: March 23, 2021
Last Updated: March 23, 2021

Alan Stiff is one of five Chestermere residents hoping to buy and save the city's only golf course. (Submitted by Alan Stiff)

Five long-time residents of Chestermere, Alta., are making a bid to buy the Lakeside Greens Golf Course in the hopes of keeping it open and running rather than bulldozed and redeveloped.

They oppose the plans of the golf course owners, who partnered with international developer Slokker Homes last fall to redevelop the land and together commissioned a feasibility report that found the course was not economically viable in the long-term.

Slokker hasn't put forth any formal applications yet to the City of Chestermere. Its early proposal, presented to residents earlier this month, includes a community of 1,200 homes — a plan that drew opposition from some who say the community of about 20,000 doesn't need more housing but does need its only golf course to remain open.

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Alan Stiff, who's lived in the city for 22 years, is the spokesperson for the residents, all current members of the golf club, who have teamed up in a bid to buy the course.

Stiff said the group sent an email to Wayne McBean, one of the club's owners, that offers to buy the club for an undisclosed amount.

"We as a group would like to offer the LG Partnership group a certain amount [confidential] for the ownership of the Lakeside Golf Club. This would include all lands, buildings and equipment that are currently owned under Lakeside Golf Club and the LG Limited Partnership," reads the email, which was shared with CBC News. 

Stiff said the group is serious and ready to take over as soon as possible.

"We're all business people, we know how to run businesses and make them profitable, and we do believe that the golf course is a vital part of Chestermere. We believe that we could make it profitable," said Stiff, who owns and operates K.C. Seals Inc., which manufactures seals for the oil and gas field sector.

Stiff says the group came up with the amount based on the sold prices of two nearby courses that were experiencing financial trouble. He says the group had also talked to McBean before submitting it.

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Stiff wouldn't disclose the names of the other buyers in the group, nor the exact amount of the offer, but CBC News has learned from the current ownership group that the offer was $2 million.

Owners say fair market value for land is about $15M

Stiff said the letter of offer was sent more than a week ago. He said the group has yet to receive a straight answer from McBean.

CBC News reached out to McBean, who responded by text confirming he received an email offer from what he described as "not a professional group" wanting to purchase Lakeside.

"I called the person that emailed me and thanked them for the offer and informed him that the offer did not meet Lakeside's financial commitments," he said.

He says he hasn't received any other offers since.

"We understand the grief of losing the Lakeside Golf Course and sympathize with the individuals bringing forward the offer," McBean wrote.

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"Lakeside Golf Course is not a viable operation and the 'akin to verbal' offer represents that."

Some residents have expressed concerns with plans to redevelop Chestermere's only golf course. (Submitted by Lakeside Greens Golf Course Preservation Society)

A spokesperson for Slokker said Slokker speaks for the club's ownership, not McBean. 

"An informal offer was made by email but was far below what would be considered a serious offer. There was no legal representation on behalf of the individuals. Fair market value as vacant land would be at least $15 million. Keeping it open as a golf course is a losing proposition," an emailed statement from the company read.

"Please remember this is private land and the property owner has no wish to sell at this time, as is his right."

Both McBean and Slokker said the owners look forward to working with Chestermere's residents and the city to draft a proposal that represents the best use of the land, including their vision of an attractive main street and extensive public pathway system. 

Golfers' group argues club still viable

Stiff said the group believes the golf course could be viable in the future.

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He said many courses are seeing a spike in popularity during the pandemic, and the sport is seeing growing interest among young people in the area.

He also believes the club could also host more year-round events, as the clubhouse and restaurant currently close each winter. 

"We know it's not just a golf course — it's a community centre." 

Stiff said one of the potential new owners has experience running a golf course and said they can secure financing.

But he said he knows they can't force McBean to sell the course as is.

So until the group receives a response saying "no deal" from McBean, they will proceed.

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The group is now in the process of writing up a formal, legal offer, Stiff said. 

The City of Chestermere said it's not doing interviews on the subject at this time, and referred CBC News to a previous statement about the course.

In that statement, the city's chief administrative officer said it has yet to receive a concrete redevelopment application and reassured residents that there will be a community consultation process.