The owners of Eaglecrest Golf Club have informed the Town of Qualicum Beach they are not interested in proceeding with the latest five-year lease council proposed on Jan. 27.
Council amended the rate in the lease agreement with Semiahmoo Golf Centre for use of the town-owned 17th fairway and the 18th tee box at the course. The latest offer entailed a five-year lease for the 17th fairway, based on the current rate of $1,902 for 2021, and a two per cent annual increase for the subsequent four years. For the 18th tee box the current lease rate of $376 for the first year would be maintained and a two per cent hike each year in the next four years.
“They’re not interested in entertaining that,” said Heather Svensen, corporate administrator, who informed council at its regular meeting on Feb. 3.
Eaglecrest owners have planned to reduce the course layout from 18 holes to nine, starting in April. But at present, the club reduced the operations to just 17 holes as it has now excluded the use of the 17th fairway.
“Without the 17th that’s very impractical for people to walk from the 16th green to the 18th tee box; it’s not a very good experience,” said Coun. Teunis Westbroek after recently playing at Eaglecrest.
Coun. Scott Harrison made a successful motion to indicate council fully supports an 18-hole golf course and has no plans to entertain any application that would undermine that use.
“We’ve got a lot of emails, I know Coun. Westbroek got a lot, I have got a lot and the mayor has too,” said Harrison. “A lot of people are worried. Are we going to change the reality on the ground? I don’t think that’s the intent for any of us. That’s just the frame of the conversation. We do want to be supportive of the business but we’re not going to go down that road. If I can say that. It’s just letting the people know that that’s not really on the table right now.”
Westbroek said they want to continue to work things out with Semiahmoo Golf Centre. He explained the town has had problems with the previous owners but were still able to work things out and went on to establish a good working relationship.
“I am hoping with the new owners that would continue,” said Westbroek. “I think it would be appropriate for the town to acknowledge that we didn’t respond to their earlier request for renewing the lease with an apology also that we would look forward to building better communication but also a good solid business relationship. That’s my motion.”
Semiahmoo Golf Centre has been operating Eaglecrest Golf Club since they took ownership three years ago. They attempted to discuss the lease with the town six months ago but only got a reply on Dec. 24, one week before the lease expired on Dec. 31, 2020. They’re also disappointed with the initial plan to double the rent for the use of 17th fairway and 18th tee box.
Westbroek said he wants the town to negotiate in an amicable way. He suggested a meeting with the owners to discuss how they can move forward in the interest of all who lives and plays golf at Eaglecrest, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
“It’s been there a long time, long before Arrowsmith, long before Pheasant Glen and so on,” said Westbroek. “It’s integral to Qualicum Beach. It’s not just a place to play 18 holes of golf. It’s part of our attractiveness for people to move here, to live here and to play golf. This is important to our culture, to our business community.”
Westbroek suggested they write an open letter to Semiahmoo Golf Centre to convey their intention to work with them.
Mayor Brian Wiese said he has offered to work with the owners but had not receive a reply to his calls for a meeting or discussion other than the email Svensen received recently.
Harrison agreed that an open letter indicating the town’s willingness to work with the owners to find a solution is an appropriate move.