Calgary

Tax breaks for golf courses will have to wait as city studies state of the industry

City administration will study the state of golf courses in Calgary and report back to city council with strategies on how to retain them or redevelop them.

Coun. Ward Sutherland wanted province to re-evaluate its tax policies in light of land value pressures

Coun. Ward Sutherland wanted to ask the province to reconsider the way golf courses are taxed. (CBC)

City administration will study the state of golf courses in Calgary and report back to city council with strategies on how to retain, or redevelop them. 

It's a hot topic in the city, with the development of closed courses leading to clashes between communities and those who want to build on the land. 

The initial motion, drafted by Coun. Ward Sutherland, asked Mayor Naheed Nenshi to send a letter asking the province to reconsider how it taxes golf courses with high land values adding additional financial burdens. 

Sutherland said the tax burden on some courses has reached 20 and even 30 per cent of their revenues, as opposed to other businesses that pay about three per cent of their annual revenues in property taxes.

'No way I could have supported it'

"The notice of motion that was put before council today was very problematic because it really talked about a subsidy for one particular use without frankly a good rationale or any numbers behind it," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi during a council meeting break. "So there's no way I could have supported it."  

"The question of what's the future of golf within the city is actually a good one because there are some uses that don't make sense within the city and some that do make sense."

Taxation powers

The city has no power to change the way courses are taxed. The provincial government alone can make that change through the Municipal Government Act.

Several private courses have been sold or turned over for redevelopment in Calgary in recent years, including Shawnee Slopes, Harvest Hills and Highland Park.

The City of Calgary runs six public golf courses.

Administration will report back to council with its findings later this year. 

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