Council gives first reading to help for River Bend

  • Apr. 17, 2013 2:53 p.m.

City council has given first reading to plan to help with ongoing financial struggles facing the River Bend Golf and Recreation Society.

Council heard that the Society’s financial challenges date back to as early as 2001, but by 2007 the Society was challenged to meet their financial obligations to the City. There were a number of reasons for this – reduced rounds of golf due to poor weather conditions for a few years in a row, sluggish economic conditions, aging infrastructure and a hike in property taxes since 2001, said Shelley Gagnon, manager, recreation, parks and culture.

“All have these have contributed to the position that the organization is in,” she said.

“Although it’s been a long process, I can confidently say that it’s heading in the right direction,” she said of discussions with the Society’s board about dealing with the financial issues.

Council gave first reading to entering a new three year agreement with the Society for the operation of the River Bend Golf and Recreation Area.

Details include the City continuing the Fee for Service Program of $144,200 for 2014 and $148,526 for 2015. This cost is for the recreation trails and operation of Discovery Canyon.

The City would also defer debt payments on the building loan given to the Society for the period of the contract. In 2004 an expansion to the club house was approved by Council with a loan from the City which was intended to be supported by increased operating revenue.

But with the downturn in the economy, revenue projections could not be achieved.

Meanwhile, the agreement would mean that Council would approve the write-off of the 2011 and 2012 license fees totaling about $337,800 and remove the 2013 license fee component from the 2013 operating budget.

The River Bend Golf and Recreation Area was developed in 1987 as part of the Waskasoo Park System in the City. The facility includes a golf course, cross-country ski trails, a water park, restaurant and catering services, a pro-shop and other non-golf amenities.

According to Council notes, about 58% of the 420 acres is related to the golf course awhile 42% is related to the non-golf amenities.

The land and amenities are owned by the City, while the operation is managed through an agreement with the not-for-profit River Bend Golf and Recreation Society.

Meanwhile, the bylaw amendment will return to council for second and third reading in several weeks.