Community group calls for open talks on Edmonton golf club lease

A community group is calling on the city to re-evaluate how a prime piece of city-owned land in the river valley is leased to the Royal Mayfair Golf Club.

City isn't disclosing what Royal Mayfair Golf Club pays to lease land in river valley

Despite the sign at the entrance to the club, the grounds are open to the public in the winter. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

A community group is calling on the city to re-evaluate how a prime piece of city-owned land in the river valley is leased to the Royal Mayfair Golf Club.

The group, Friends of our Park, said in a news release Monday that the city's negotiations with the golf club adjacent to Hawrelak Park should involve "comprehensive public consultation."

The group describes itself as "parks advocates, river valley enthusiasts, taxpayers, and everyday citizens, raising awareness of this opportunity to share our vision for our city-owned land."

Friends of the Park said it believes the Mayfair is negotiating with the city to renew its lease through the year 2069.

Mayfair general manager Wade Hudyma said Monday the club is renegotiating its lease, but declined to reveal details.

A City of Edmonton spokesperson told CBC News the city doesn't disclose details of lease agreements or negotiations, including how much the club pays to lease the land.

The Mayfair, which has 475 shareholders, has an 18-hole course on riverside greens, a clubhouse with "naturally lit rooms and stunning views of the course," banquet rooms, a boardroom, a gazebo and a lounge.

"It is a tradition, and one that has been upheld since 1922 by an evolving community of members who share a passion for the game we love," the club's website says, adding that the Mayfair is the longest-standing golf club in Edmonton.

Michael Janz, a member of Friends of our Park, said a lot has changed since 1922.
Michael Janz, a member of Friends of Our Park, says it's absurd that only private members have access to the Mayfair Golf Club grounds on city-owned land. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

"Now we're almost a million people in the city," said Janz. "And the idea that only a couple hundred people get private access to river valley land that's bigger than Hawrelak Park is absurd to us."

"We're calling on councillors to make all of this public and to consult with all of us and give us time as a community to come up with a response," Janz said at a media availability. "We believe this is a bad deal, and we want better."

Coun. Aaron Paquette posted on his Facebook page that he's heard concerns from the public about whether the private facility fits in with the city's policies on river valley use.

"I believe that any decisions involving Edmonton's river valley need to be public and transparent, not decided behind closed doors," Paquette's post reads. "The public should have an opportunity to engage in and have access to information about these agreements."

In a statement, Hudyma said the Mayfair has been an excellent steward of the land since the 1920s.

"We currently provide public access to a portion of our leased land throughout the year for recreational purposes and are in conversations internally as to how we could further provide access and enjoyment to the public."

The Royal Mayfair Golf Club at 9450 Groat Rd. was established in 1922.