Calgary

Developer eyeing Chestermere golf course not in touch with with community's needs, say some residents

Some people in Chestermere who participated in an online information session for a proposed development on the Chestermere golf course say they need a golf course, not more housing. But the developer says the course is not a long-term viable business.

Slokker Homes is proposing to build a housing and retail project on the Lakeside Greens Golf Course

There's a proposed retail and housing development on the Lakeside Greens Golf Course in Chestermere, but some residents are opposed to the plans. (Lakeside Greens Golf Course Preservation Society )

Some residents in Chestermere say they don't need more housing, but they do need the city's only golf course to remain open because of the lack of recreational opportunities in the community of about 20,000 east of Calgary.

Slokker Homes is proposing to build a housing and retail project on the Lakeside Greens Golf Course. The international developer says based on a recent report by the national accounting firm MNP, which Slokker commissioned, the golf course is not a viable long-term business. Slokker hired MNP to review the course's unaudited financial statements from 2014 to 2019 to determine the future viability of the course.

The company hosted an hour and a half online information session, along with a question and answer period, on Tuesday evening.

It was the first time people had a chance to hear the company's vision and ask Slokker Homes about the proposed development. 

According to the company, 134 people logged in for the session.

Greg Fulmes, who has lived off the 14th hole of the golf course for more than 10 years, says he didn't hear anything that would change his mind.

"Why are we going to build a development in an already saturated town when we don't need it and they are taking away one of the two attractions in the city that people want," said Fulmes.

He says the lake is the other attraction.

Fulmes says he also worries about the impact of this project on the value of his home.

He and his wife want to downsize but he says he hasn't had any luck selling his home, and he blames it on this development.

Fulmes says his concerns weren't taken seriously when he raised them to the developer Tuesday night.

"And I have to go back to the recording but I believe that the CEO said 'I'd buy it', so I sent them an email this morning saying we're waiting for your offer," said Fulmes.

The president of Slokker Homes, Peter Paauw did say, "Well for sure I am happily to buy it," but then he also said "I'm very certain that any and all houses are now and in the future sellable and I don't think that will change."

Survey shows

During the session Slokker presented the results of an online survey it conducted within the community between December 2020 and February 2021. 

It says it wants community input before it finalizes its plans for the city to consider.

Part of the survey had participants rank the importance of a list of priorities for Chestermere over the next few years. 

Their number one priority was keeping the golf course, followed by lower taxes, more public space, more interconnected paths, increased variety of services and retail, better protection of the environment, less vehicle traffic and better access to the lake.

Peter Paauw, president of Slokker Homes, says he plans to submit the plans to the city later this year. (Slokker Homes)

The company says based on the overall results of the survey they envision its plan would have a "small town feel" and include walking paths, bike paths, a dog park, more public access to the lake, and a main street or town centre with retail shops that support local business.

Slokker has hired Calgary-based urban planner and landscape architect firm O2 Planning and Design to work on the project.

"It would really be a bike oriented development so people from all of over Chestermere could come and bike to this town centre but also go through it," said Brian Horton, O2 Planning and Design, who also spoke during the information session.

But Horton reiterated that these are still early days, and they hope to continue to collect feedback from residents about what they would like to see in this development.

Horton also talked about the potential for a greater tax base for the city, over and above what it collects from the golf course.

Paauw says at this point it is planning for 1,200 homes, half of which would be single family homes, with a lot of setback from existing properties, and the higher density, low-rise housing near the main street. He says he plans to submit the plans to the city later this year.

Still looking for answers

Fulmes isn't the only resident pushing back against the developer's plans.

The Lakeside Greens Golf Course Preservation Society, which aims to keep the golf course running, launched a petition in October 2020. At the start of the month, it had over 2,800 signatures and it now has over 3,100 signees.

Darby King-Maillot, with the society, says she was frustrated by the process of the information session because she says some questions weren't getting answered.

"If it hadn't been for our supporters contacting us and sending us screenshots of the questions that they submitted that were not answered we would have had no idea that people were not getting their questions answered," King-Maillot said.

"It's not open and transparent."

Slokker Homes says it received about 200 questions last night and any that weren't answered during the event would be posted on its website.

King-Maillot also questions why the MNP report is not being shared publicly since Pauuw often refers to it when asked why it won't try to keep the course running, or sell it to another potential buyer.

Paauw shared it with CBC news.

A spokesperson for Slokker Homes says if people want to see the report they can contact Slokker and Paauw will go over it with them.

It says it just doesn't want it made public without proper context.

Some technical issues also prevented some participants, including King-Maillot, from being able to log in properly to ask questions directly to Paauw during the Q and A. 

Instead a third party read out the questions to Paauw.

A company spokesperson says it expects to have these technical issues ironed out before the next session Thursday evening.

Corrections

  • This article was updated from a previous version that misidentified Darby King-Maillot.
    Mar 10, 2021 5:51 PM MT

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