Playing a round of golf at the municipally owned Cedar Hill golf course will cost a few dollars more this year, as Saanich continues to chip away at the facility’s large operating deficit.
The golf course’s poor finances dominated Saanich’s budget discussions in 2012, after council voted unanimously to close the second-floor clubhouse restaurant to save money.
Last February, the potential 2012 golf course loss was estimated at $820,000. Closure of the restaurant and a restructuring of food service in the clubhouse, combined with hikes to passes and green fees, is forecast to cut this year’s loss to $342,000, which will come out of municipal reserves, said Doug Henderson, director of parks and recreation.
Amid heated public discussion surrounding options at the golf course last winter, council approved a three-year plan that set predetermined annual increases to play golf. This season green fees will go up $2 to $47.70 on weekends and $42.70 during the week – but it’s the pass holders who will see the biggest change.
For the second year in a row, they’ll have to pay more to golf less, as Saanich tightens restrictions on the maximum number of rounds playable in the summer season, while increasing a full annual pass by $70 and the restricted weekday pass by $38.
Val Mieras, president of the Cedar Hill Golf Club, told the News last year that Saanich’s “pay more, get less” golf plan was neglecting the course’s most loyal players.
One year later, she believes the fees should be reassessed, as club members remain disappointed with the fees.
“My suspicion is green fees are up and pass sales are down, because many who would’ve been passholders are now just paying green fees. It’s not necessarily new people playing there,” Mieras said.
Mayor Frank Leonard said “the signs are good” that the direction the golf course is taking is the right one.
“We’re at the front end of a plan, and so far we’re making progress,” he said. “We’re in the right direction, but we’re not where we need to be.”
He acknowledged, however, that the plan is still not sitting well with everyone. “I know that the regulars are not happy. I’m not going to minimize that they’re frustrated, but we need to act in the best interests of all taxpayers.”
In addition to having to pay more to golf, purchasing a long-term pass to access Saanich’s recreation centres is also going up.
The price for a 10-visit access card for adults rises $1.86 to $52.86, while an annual pass rises $11.90 to $411.90.
Drop-in fees for adults, students and seniors, however, will drop by 25 cents.
Henderson attributes that small savings to the adjustment from the HST to the GST/PST system.
Saanich council was expected to approve the 2013 parks and recreation fees at Monday night’s council meeting. The new fee structure would go into effect beginning April 1.
Did you know?
Saanich golf and recreation centre fee changes as of April 1, pending council approval
-A full annual Cedar Hill golf pass that allows weekend play on the course will rise $70 to $1,488. A restricted annual pass for weekday play jumps $38 to $1,125.
-This year’s full pass allows for just 90 rounds, with a maximum of 50 played in the summer season (April 15 to Oct. 15). The restricted pass gets you 100 rounds this year, with a 55-round maximum during the summer.
-Saanich recreation centre drop-in fees are going down 25 cents, but 10-visit and annual passes are going up.
-Recreation centre 10-visit access card for adults rise $1.86 to $52.86. Annual pass rise $11.90 to $411.90.