Councillor wants province to tee up help for private golf courses

Coun. Ward Sutherland says privately-owned golf courses in Calgary face a unique problem and should be assessed differently from other business properties.

Ward Sutherland says privately-owned golf courses in Calgary face a unique problem

A Calgary councillor wants Alberta to create a new tax category for private golf courses, which require large tracts of land yet usually don't operate year-round. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

A councillor fears privately-owned golf courses could be a thing of the past in Calgary unless they are taxed differently.

Coun. Ward Sutherland will bring forward at motion at Monday's city council meeting, asking the mayor to send a letter to the province to see if it would create a new tax category for golf courses.

"All I'm asking for is a fair way to tax a golf course," said Sutherland.

He points out that private members-only golf courses and privately-owned golf courses open to the public are taxed just like any other non-residential property.

However, unlike other non-residential properties, golf courses need large tracts of land, and many don't operate year-round.

Requires change to provincial act

Sutherland said unlike some businesses that pay about three per cent of their annual revenues in property taxes, rising land values have seen golf course tax bills rise to 20 and even 30 per cent of their revenues.

"If we don't change it, most of the golf owners are saying in 10 years from now, there'll be no courses in the city," said Sutherland.

The question ultimately is up to the provincial government because only it can make a change to the Municipal Government Act.

Several private courses have been sold or turned over for redevelopment in Calgary in recent years, including Shawnee Slopes, Highland Park and Harvest Hills. The City of Calgary runs six public golf courses.

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