A like-for-like replacement for the burned-down Ledgeview clubhouse could be built with available insurance money, but Mayor Henry Braun said it would be rash for the city to proceed to build a bigger and better facility without the guaranteed availability of money linked to construction beginning on the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
On Sunday, two days after the city announced a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for this month would be delayed, the Ledgeview Golf & Country Club Society issued a statement condemning Braun’s handling of the clubhouse rebuilding. The society said the city had failed to carry enough insurance to rebuild the clubhouse and shouldn’t have tied the new facility to money dependent on the Trans Mountain pipeline proceeding.
Braun said Monday the city had enough insurance to replace the aging clubhouse, which burned to the ground in 2016, but that council had wanted to improve a city asset by using money from Trans Mountain, which signed a deal with the city shortly before the fire. He said he thought the Ledgeview society was on the same page.
The $5.67 million clubhouse planned by the city would include a 225-seat banquet hall. About half the funds for the project would come from Trans Mountain by way of $1.3 million from the community amenities deal and another $1.5 million would come from the use of right-of-ways – but that cash is dependent on the expansion of the pipeline proceeding. The rest would be financed from insurance money stemming from the fire ($1.5 million) and the city itself (around $1.1 million), with Ledgeview raising around $270,000 more.
The new two-storey building would be more than double the size of the old clubhouse.
To proceed with that project without the pipeline funds guaranteed would require the city to accept that taxpayers might actually end up on the hook for millions more of the facility’s cost. Given that, Braun said Monday that it wouldn’t be fiscally prudent to proceed.
Braun said last month’s court ruling that the government hadn’t properly consulted First Nations took many people by surprise.
“We haven’t cancelled the project,” he said. Instead, staff will report back in a few months. “At the end of 60 to 90 days, we may know much more than we know now.”
Braun said if the Ledgeview society is having second thoughts about the project, council has the power to ask staff to start work on a scaled-back facility almost immediately. But Braun said that a course like Ledgeview – Abbotsford’s only full-sized golf course – should have a properly sized clubhouse and said that if the city could get one built at limited cost to itself, it would be a “tremendous deal.”
“If Ledgeview wants a clubhouse that’s the same size as they had before, we can deal with that at the next council meeting,” he said. “My impression is that’s not what they wanted.”