The gift of $1.3 million to the City of Abbotsford from pipeline giant Kinder Morgan, to be applied toward a new clubhouse for the Ledgeview Golf Course, was a controversial one.
Some members of the public felt the city – which officially expressed a range of concerns over the Trans Mountain pipeline proposal – should have waited until the approval process was much further along or even complete before accepting the money. (It must be remembered that the compensation would not have been offered if not for the significant disruption to Ledgeview, under which runs the KM pipeline and, if approved, the installation of a twin pipe.)
Timing aside, it was also suggested the money could have been put to better use for other public facilities. Some critics opined that the city-owned golf course is a facility only used by a minority of residents pursuing an elitist sport.
Those views unfairly represented reality, since the clubhouse also contained a restaurant and events space visited by people not playing golf. And in a larger context, the course itself is an affordable one, enjoyed by many people who do not fall within stereotypical descriptions of wealth.
However, in the aftermath of an early morning blaze that gutted the aging clubhouse in April, an answer to public concerns has presented itself.
Insurance funds will be used to replace the Ledgeview clubhouse, and the Kinder Morgan cash has now been tentatively earmarked by council to help fund a $10-million upgrade at the Matsqui Recreation Centre, and the addition of a cultural facility and community space at the same location.
The call for the application of the KM money for a more publicly accessible project would thus be addressed, although those who criticized the timing of the offer and acceptance will still harbour concerns.
Nevertheless, this potential plan is an optical improvement, and could ultimately result in more recreational and cultural opportunities for a wider range of residents.