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‘No appetite’ for $250K assist for Ledgeview, says Abbotsford mayor
It’s unlikely Ledgeview Golf and Country Club will receive $250,000 in requested city funding, according to Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman.
In January, the Ledgeview Golf Society, led by president Pat Differ and general manager Chris Hood, approached the city asking for a quarter of a million dollars in funding to help operate the city-owned facility.
The society has run the course since 1978 and this marks the first time it has requested funding.
Differ told council last month that a $150,000 loss is expected this year, following losses of $220,000 in 2011 and $111,000 in 2010. The economic slowdown is being blamed for the losses.
Differ also told council the society is over-extended at the bank and may be unable to continue without support.
“I can tell you that there is no appetite whatsoever to give Ledgeview $250,000,” said Banman.
Banman said because the city owns the land, he can’t see allowing the valuable property, located at 35997 McKee Rd., to be “turned back into pasture,” and believes some help is needed.
“If that means they need a short-term buffer we will most likely help them with that, but it’s not going to be anything near $250,000.”
Banman said the subject of selling the property has been presented as an option, but it’s not one he thinks will be pursued.
He prefers to see other options explored, such as creating new revenue streams.
“Perhaps it would be a great place to have a first-class restaurant and banquet centre. Maybe there’s a private company that might be interested in doing that.”
He also believes a new management style is needed.
However, selling the land, especially for development, could be a profitable venture.
At approximately 104 acres, the land could potentially earn the city tens of millions of dollars if it were to be sold for development.
Ledgeview general manager Chris Hood said he had a few meetings with the city, and the idea of selling the course has not come up.
“The city has always told us, no matter what, that this is always going to be a golf course, they want it to be a golf course,” said Hood.
He said the recreation aspect is also important.
He stressed that Ledgeview may have members, but it is not a private club and is open to the public.
He also said the financial picture is slightly better now than it was when they approached council.
“At the time, it was January and we were in a deficit position at the bank where we were into a credit line, but now we have dues coming in and some revenue coming in, so we are back in a good position with the bank, for now,” said Hood.
He said if the city doesn’t provide any funds, Ledgeview will find a way to go on.
“We are open for business, we are going to be here.”
The society’s five-year contract runs out at the end of 2015 and Hood said there is no guarantee that it will be renewed.
He said the club’s members pay close to $100,000 for capital projects, over and above their dues, and he thinks the city should match it.
The club has just under 300 members who pay up to $2,850 a year in dues, capital costs, taxes, and food and beverage charges, depending on the level of their membership. Weekday golfers and youth golfers pay less.
Hood said the total 2012 budget is projecting $1.8 million in revenue and $1.95 million in expenses.
He said that breaks down to approximately a $5,000 loss in the food and beverage sector, a $35,000 loss at the golf shop and $110,000 loss to maintain the golf course.