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REPORTING · 11th December 2015
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat City Council saw a presentation from Robin Lapointe and Steve Haggard representing the Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club on Monday, December 7th. They were there to make a funding request.

“We’re here this evening following up on our original request in February of this year asking for a $160,000 grant and we thank you for the $60,000 you advanced us in late August. We’re pleased to report that for the first time in 5 years, we’ve actually shown a slight positive gain thanks to the financial support the District of Kitimat has given us but also thanks to industry and small business,” said Lapointe.

He expressed they received donations from various events which have brought them closer to the $190,000 mark which was a positive gain. They also have had a lot of help from their volunteers.

“Without your support and their donations and the volunteer effort, we never would have been able to show a positive gain,” said Lapointe.

He explained in less than 12 months, they have hired Haggard as a full time manager and reopened the kitchen.

Lapointe told Council the grant was so they could operate until the end of the 2016 golf season. They need to elect a new board which will be done this coming Sunday, December 13th.

He asked Council for the remaining grant.

Councillor Larry Walker asked if they suffered a loss in July, August and September. The answer was yes. Walker stated that was the peak of their golf season. However, Lapointe stated they were fully staffed during those months and the golf starts to dwindle in August and September.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff inquired as to where they are on the Land Purchase they are working on. CAO Warren Waycheshen replied they are finalizing a service agreement. The land which was talked about was a buffer around the club and a survey of the lands is still ongoing.

Feldhoff asked when it would be concluded. Waycheshen stated he did not think it would be on time, dependant on the weather. He expected it would possibly be into March.

There were no further questions so Lapointe and Haggard sat down. The decision would have been made later in the Council Meeting. However, at the end of the second presentation, the power blinked out and the meeting would be reconvened on Tuesday, December 8th.

On the 8th, Tim Algor, who had watched the prior meeting, wished to address Council on the handout to the Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club.

“This has been going on for 7 years people. If they can’t run a business, why does the taxpayers have to fund them?” asked Algor.

He stated he has been a debenture holder since 1982 and he is happy to pay his dues. He looked at what it costs to golf and what it costs to curl. He expressed when they had the log cabin club house, it was closed during the winter time.

Then the curling rink was condemned and the curlers moved in with the golf course. Algor stated the compressors and the lights costs money to run and five people out curling will not pay the bill. The waiting lists to play golf have also come down.

“Golf is not a cheap sport. It costs money to golf. If you want to golf, and you want that business to run, and it was made clear to me by Councillor Rattee that it’s called a not for profit organization, Mr. Mayor and Council, they are doing one hell of a job at that if they have to come here and get $150,000 from the taxpayers of Kitimat. They’re doing a heck of a job,” said Algor.

“It’s about time that they put on their big girl panties, managed the business, close it or sell it. Taxpayers should not be put on the hook for one penny for what used to be a semi private club,” said Algor.

He told the Council that Terrace has started a blue bin project with new garbage trucks. He suggested putting the money into the infrastructure of garbage collection in Kitimat. He suggested putting the money into something for all the people of Kitimat, not for the few who like to golf.

He added if this grant was put to referendum, it would lose by 95%.

“It’s no good for anybody else except small, elite bunch of population. If they want to golf, pay $5000 like my buddy does down in Kelowna,” said Algor. “He pays $5000 for his membership which entitles him to golf on certain days. Not $900 to golf 2-3 rounds a day. When he goes golfing, he plays one round and if he wants any more, there is an extra surcharge.”

Algor told Council it costs $150 a year to curl, meaning it would take a lot of curlers to keep the lights on. While he hears about Youth golf and youth curling, there are not any youth there.

“They keep coming to the District for more and more money, I don’t think it’s right that mayor and Council would even entertain the thought of giving these people money 8 years in a row and continuing to do so. Where do we draw the line. Maybe the District of Kitimat should own the golf course and turn it into a camp ground. That way, we wouldn’t have all the crap on our river, something to think about,” concluded Algor.

Councillor Mary Murphy expressed they share some of his concerns. She asked him if they think there was any benefit to the District owning the golf course. Algor replied: No, they should turn it into a campground because it benefits the elite.

Later in the meeting, Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to make a $100,000 contribution as an advance in completion to the land purchase.

“We have many different recreation facilities in our community and on average the taxpayer subsidizes them heavily. The recreation facilities on average is about 30%. Our coverage of the cost, whether you’re swimming or skating. Arguably, a minority uses many of our facilities. We have Riverlodge, we have the fields. In this particular case, we have advanced monies to the Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club. We have also entered into an agreement in principal to purchase a significant portion of land bordering the golf course and our community,” said Feldhoff.

He stated if the land deal had been concluded, the Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club would not be asking for money. Buying the land would be a significant investment.

Councillor Larry Walker asked if the $60,000 was a part of the purchase of land. The reply from CAO Warren Waycheshen was the money was to supply services with a portion of the funding and purchasing excess lands which could be available. How it would look would be a decision of Council.

Walker asked how much money was spent to operate Tamitik and Riverlodge and if it was anywhere near $100,000. The reply from the Director of Leisure Services, Martin Gould, their budget to operate the rinks, pool, Riverlodge, parks and outdoor areas in town was around $4,000,000. They brought in about $870,000. Around 28% recovery.

Waycheshen expressed it is rare to get 30% recovery and added one of the reasons there are few private recreation facilities is because people want recreation to be affordable and it is difficult to be affordable while covering costs.

Councillor Mary Murphy expressed she can support the motion with the acquisition of land, but was concerned about the cash flow statement they got. She stated the club knows they have to do better and they are making significant changes.

“My concern about subsidizing the Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club is that other businesses in town feel like we are subsidizing a competition to them. That is a concern and I never looked at it that way. I really have to review when we are subsidizing and it’s affecting other businesses in town because they have a restaurant and they have a bar,” said Murphy.

Councillor Claire Rattee expressed she was opposed to the motion. She stated she believed that purchasing the lands would be in order but at the moment, they do not have any information about the lands. She added she has yet to speak to any members of the public who think this is a good idea and there are too many people who are opposed to it.

Councillor Edwin Empinado wanted to know the difference between subsidization verses a service agreement. Waycheshen stated a service agreement defines what the golf course is providing to the community to draw people in and retain them.

Rattee stated everything is potential and they have no idea what the future with the Golf Course will be. She expressed many people in the community have the perception the Council is subsidising a private business and if nothing is in place, this is morally wrong.

Empinado said this will help continue a recreation program, pointing out a group of youth won medals in curling. He adding this is a part of their strategic plan, so they can develop more property.

Rattee agreed with having leisure services, but there are other things in town which need to be done and when it comes to budget, the Councillors are struggling to find money to do all the things they want to do.

“At the end of the day, especially when times are a little bit tight, we need to look at where our priorities are and I feel our priorities need to be on things like safety, things we’ve been pushing to the side for budget for years and years and year. Things like failing infrastructure and that which are very costly,” said Rattee.

Goffinet stated he would vote for the motion. The money was a part of a package which would help the golf course survive a new year and make the golf course viable and financially stable.

“In our budgeting, I believe that we haven’t pushed key issues aside. We dealt with the key priorities of this community, our debt is low and we’re running a good community,” said Feldhoff. “We aren’t subsidizing, we’re buying land. Furthermore, taxpayers are getting an excellent bang for their buck for what they’re getting at the golf and curling club,” said Feldhoff.

He told Council they purchased the Snowflake Responder for the boaters, helped with the groomer at the cross country ski club for the skiers, helped with a bus for Shames Mountain. “Recreation and diversity of recreation makes for a strong community,” said Feldhoff.

He said the money paid to the golf course was an excellent deal. The motion was called and carried with one opposed.
Mr. Brown Use your real name you say
Comment by Pinnwheel on 31st December 2015
Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.
If you have trouble understanding this I'd be happy to dumb it down for you...

Re kitimat first
Comment by Djb on 17th December 2015
I apologize for the tone of my previous message and did not mean to offend anyone. I would like to note the following :
The club has NEVER been private- it was actually called semi- private as it tried to actually give a few privileges to the people that committed to annual memberships. The only priviligese that I can recall are the ability to vote on some club issues and being able to book a time a bit farther ahead.The public has never been denied access. It is not hard to golf - you just have to book a time They don't ask if you are a member or not.As for bailing the club out , if the rinks were not subsidized it would likely cost more than3x the approx $500 it does now for adult hockey and drop in swimming would be about $18/visit
On a final note , I do think the club can be more responsive to the public if it is to take public money.
get a real grip
Comment by kitimat first on 16th December 2015
to djb, this course was a private club at one time and because of a lack of and poor management we the people have to bail you out. to think its still not private try to get out to golf or try to play on these nights without a membership, how public is it now. its not called whining its called being prudent with someone elses money, research that.
Bargain
Comment by Larry Thompson on 15th December 2015
I get a kick out of people who are saying that other sports in town are not subsidized. Of course they are as the employees that keep the ice in awesome shape, the dressing rooms clean the administration, management etc are all funded through tax dollars.
I don't see any problem with forking out 100k of our hard earned tax dollars for the golf course. We should be happy to have such an awesome facility!
Re; Get A Grip
Comment by Rory Brown on 15th December 2015
First of all, USE YOUR REAL NAMES. I am sick of the "cowards" that run their mouths but hide behind a false name.
As for the topic, there is a huge difference between our tax dollars going toward the rec department and the golf course. The city owns Tamitik and Riverlodge. It is a city asset. The golf course is not city owned. As for the golf course and the animal shelter, our tax dollars should not be going to these places without the tax payers voting on it. There is no money for things like a sidewalk on Quatsino where children walk down the side of the road the the soccer fields, but we can afford to hand over cash year after year to a failing business like the golf course. Enough is enough.
Reality
Comment by OG on 15th December 2015
Oh you all shouldnt get so worked up about this.

2016 will decide many things including the fate of the golf course.

Everyone is waiting for those final investment decisions for LNG, Enbridge,etc.

But if those announcements end up in a no go, and that is a greater likelihood than some are willing to admit...then buckle up folks 2009 era Kitimat is on its way back!

So the future of Kitimatand its golf course hinges on how much trust and faith you have in the BC Liberals and Premier Clark LOL.
Get a grip
Comment by Djb on 14th December 2015
In response to the previous 2 commenters : do a little research before whining. It is NOT a private company with shareholders and is subsidized a whole lot less than some other major sports in this community. Ie. The pool ( 15 million$ Reno) 2 rinks etc. According to the rec dept the subsidies amount to about 3 million/ year! How much money went into, and still goes towards the animal shelter? The golf course is a community facility and $100k is a good investment .
Not easy
Comment by Vern on 14th December 2015
Not just the rich play golf. I am retired and I see many other retired people out playing also. The problem I have is the cost to play a round of golf so it is not something I can afford to do every week or few weeks. I can see the benefit of having the course open as the fresh air is good for those involved in the sport and good for the town. But when do we ask "at what cost". It seems to me $100K plus a year for how many years now ? is getting a bit much. Should the district take over the course and drain more tax money or should we slowly reduce the amount that we support it? It does bring some people from out of town and does employ local people so there is some benefit . We need to see what Kitimat is getting back for this funding in the way of how many jobs the course provides and how much the course pays back in property tax.
how times have changed
Comment by kitimat first on 13th December 2015
it use to be if you were not a member of the golf club you were not welcome most times because it was a member first program, and the attitudes from members to non members was that of egotistical snobbery. how times have changed, now because of dwindling memberships the elitist club feels taxpayers should foot the bill so richer people of our community have something to do, its funny how these members have no problem going on vacation and paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars to golf but find paying $900 per annum (which is a steal) for golf fees to much to pay for a local golf club. I totally agree with mr algor that we the taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidise a rich mans sport for the few who play it locally. why isn't any other sport such as hockey/soccer subsidised while they have a larger membership ! its the same with shames mt, we feel the need to subsidise a sport for the few who are well off. kitimat council and golf members should be ashamed of this and should ask for a stop to this ludicrous handout for the well off few, while the less fortunate try to eke out with what few dollars they have. its not right and its not fair to kitimats tax payer, this handout should stop immediately. how many of the councillors are using this subsidised golf course, is it a perk you feel is your right to vote yes on !
more money for the rich.
Comment by j.s. on 13th December 2015
since the golf course is privately owned by share holders the people of kitimat have a few questions since its our tax dollars being spent. (a) how much has been spent over the last ten years, has it surpassed one million dollars yet ,(b)who are the share holders and are any of them in or have been in the council, (c) are the share holders not wealthy enough to handle or manage the financial situation on their own.