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No Mulligans for Pine Valley Golf Course as council looks to sell
Despite a presentation pleading with council to continue to support the Pine Valley Golf Course, administration has been tasked with gathering more information on the KPMG suggestion to sell the land, one of the opportunities outlined following the core services review.
Don Chamberlain, who spoke on behalf of Friends of Pine Valley, touched on some history surrounding the course. He explained a concern the city was moving towards selling the land resulted in the organization of Friends of Pine Valley, a group which visited council in 2010 to plead its case. At the time council supported retaining the land and supporting the course which lead to the group revitalizing the property, including planting hundreds of seedlings with the help of volunteers and several donor organizations.
Chamberlain pointed out the course is important not only as an entry level golf course which is affordable and accessible, but also as a green space zoned as parkland in the city.
“Parkland in the bowl area cannot be replaced,” he said.
He also expressed his frustration the issue which resulted in a decision made just two years ago was once again before council.
“ I am very concerned only two or three years later we are here with another council,” he said. “We need to preserve our parks and not allow future councils to sell them.”
Later, when discussing core service review suggestions forwarded by the committee as a whole, the issue of Pine Valley was debated by council.
“I think Pine Valley is being made the scapegoat,” Coun. Brian Skakun said. “It’s the easy way out to make a buck.”
He said council overspent on mega-projects like the new police building, and now it’s saying it better sell Pine Valley to avoid a tax increase, which could be seven per cent unless council finds a way to lower it, something they have committed to do. However, selling Pine Valley could take years, Skakun said, and certainly will have no affect on the upcoming levy.
Coun. Frank Everitt said he was unaware the matter came before council in 2010, and had been under the impression it would be a quick sale.
Everitt said he needed more information and greater dialogue with council before making a final decision on the fate of Pine Valley.
Coun. Lyn Hall compared the issue to discussing school closures, something he has experience with as a former school board member. When they happened, he said, they included a number of meetings, public hearings and administrative work.
“So I have no issue with going to administration for more information,” he said. “I’d like more discussion. I am not equipped at this point to say yes, close Pine Valley.”
Coun. Cameron Stolz agreed selling Pine Valley would have no affect on the next tax levy, however it would in upcoming years. He pointed out the course needs upgrades, whether it’s $250,000 worth, as suggested by Chamberlain, or over $1 million, as stated in the KPMG report. On the flip side, selling the property would bring the income of the sale to city coffers, money that could, for example, be spent on fleet services so the city wouldn’t have to service a debt in that area, but would earn sustainable funds through taxation.
“It’s about the future. It’s about being financially sustainable,” he said.
Coun. Dave Wilbur said it is the responsibility of council to be as well informed as possible, and supported administration doing some key work, returning to council with its findings.
Coun. Murry Krause supported that as well, adding that for him getting more information on a sale certainly didn’t mean it was a done deal.
Mayor Shari Green said she, too, was willing to wait for an administrative report.
“I think the writing is on the wall on this one,” she said. “I’m not going to fool anyone.”
The motion that administration return with more information on the sale and development of Pine Valley with Skakun opposed.