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Ledgeview Golf Course is likely facing major changes in the coming months, as members meet on Sept. 11 to decide how to deal with the facility’s significant financial issues.
The society which runs Ledgeview recently requested relief funding from council, and it has been suggested the organization may not have the financial capacity to continue operating the golf course on McKee Road.
Pat Differ, president of the Ledgeview Golf Society, declined an opportunity to speak on the issue, saying he wanted to respect the process.
However, asked if a notification went out to members regarding the possible closure of Ledgeview, Differ replied “Well, yeah, that’s happened, and we are working through that right now.”
“At this point it’s premature to say anything,” he said.
Longtime Ledgeview member, former board member and past president, Dave Holmberg, told The News that Ledgeview will not cease operations.
“Closure of the golf course will never happen,” he said.
He said the current society that operates the golf course is in a financial bind and didn’t get “substantial support” from the city.
“It’s impossible for them to continue,” he said.
“It’s not a closure. It’s to talk about the fact that the current operation of the current society does not have enough financial support to continue.
“And the smart thing you do is, you do it in a manner that is responsible and not wait until the big axe comes down. You do it right.”
Holmberg added, “it’s almost like a here’s-the-keys kind of thing.”
He said golf courses make profit during the four to five months of spring and summer.
“One of those months is June and it rained almost every day in June, and the weather was never supportive of golf activity.”
He said that resulted in more than $100,000 in profits lost, adding the lack of council support and negative comments in the media have hampered the group even further.
But he is confident that the city will step in.
“The city will have to look at it as a major asset to this community,” he said, pointing out the facility helps raise upwards of $500,000 for local charities, which hold fundraisers and other events at the course.
Holmberg said that in the past few years, the golf industry in B.C. and North America has struggled.
If the society does give operational control of Ledgeview back to the city, it is not clear if city hall will be willing to run the course.
Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said there was little the city could do until the society holds its meeting.
“They have to figure out what they’re doing. The city’s sitting here waiting for them to make a decision as to what they want to do,” he said.
In January, the Ledgeview Golf Society went before council seeking $250,000 in financial support. It was the first time the group had approached the city for help.
At the time, Differ told council the golf course was “experiencing some difficulties with respect to the decline in the economy and the decline in the golf business.”
After running the course successfully for the past 30 years, the club lost $112,000 in 2010, $240,000 in 2011 and was expecting to lose $150,000 this year.
The group was created in 1978 to run the city-owned public golf facility. In May, the city granted Ledgeview $115,000, including $65,000 in rent forgiveness and $50,000 toward capital improvements.
The city has already been exploring options for the facility. In June, staff issued a Request For Expressions of Interest in the city-owned golf course. The document states a private operator may be chosen to take over the course on a long-term lease. Developers are also invited to put forward ideas on how to improve the 2.5-acre clubhouse lands. However, the golf course itself was not up for development.