The Revelstoke Golf Club wants to be included as a line item in the City of Revelstoke’s parks and recreation budget, council heard on Tuesday.
The new council sat down together for their first real meeting, and the first item on the agenda was a presentation from the club that included the request.
“We would like to be included as a line item in your budget,” Sabina Spahmann, a director with the club, told council. “Not to increase the budget, but as an adjustment of the budget, and be viewed as part of the recreation package in Revelstoke.”
The request was the culmination of a 20 minute presentation by Spahmann and Heather Duchman, the club’s president. Also joining them was Greg Austin, the club’s manager. It was accompanied by a letter from the board making the request.
“After an in depth study of historical, current and future expenses and revenues of the Revelstoke Golf Club, it is apparent that financial assistance will be required to proceed with providing the level of golf that both this community and visitors have come to expect,” wrote Duchman. “The Board is asking that a line item for financial assistance be established in the city budget, reflecting a graduated increase in funding as the golf course budget addresses expenditures in their five year projections.”
They didn’t ask for a specific amount, though Duchman did tell council the club hasn’t paid its $12,000 annual lease to the city for three years.
The presentation went over the hopes and dreams the club aspires to, and the many challenges they face to get there. The ultimate goal is for a course and clubhouse that celebrates the club’s 90-year history and initial life as a horse racing track. It would be a course that would attract locals, tourists, act as host for classy events like weddings and banquets, and be a key element of Revelstoke’s tourist offerings.
Unfortunately, that dream is a long way off. Before it becomes a reality the club has a number of challenges to address. It is faced with a large debt that it is starting to address but still presents a burden, and deteriorating infrastructure that could cost more than $500,000 to repair.
According to the report, the future of the course is threatened by a declining and aging membership, marketing challenges, poor public perception and support in the community, competition from other sports, declining maintenance standards due to declining revenue, and limited eligibility for grants and funding.
Weaknesses include declining revenue and rising costs, poor marketing, the condition of the clubhouse, and more.
That’s the bad news. The good news is the club says it has been working hard to address these issues. It has been working with the Chamber of Commerce, Revelstoke Tourism and the Revelstoke Accommodation Association to come up with a marketing strategy. This year, it received several accolades, including being ranked the 17th best “Hidden Gem” by the PGA BC Professionals.
The club increased junior membership this year and is planning a promotion to increase membership in 2015. Last summer they introduced nights like Grip It & Sip It designed to attract casual golfers.
On the financial side, a five-year plan was put in place and one full-time position was eliminated. A tourism infrastructure grant was used to pay off the club’s $65,000 cart lease agreement, insurance costs were reduced and long-term debt was reduced by 20 per cent.
The club wants to be seen as an important asset for the city as it develops as a resort community, and wants to be part of the city’s recreation budget.
“Today, and moving forward, we’re hoping the most important stakeholder – the City of Revelstoke – becomes part of this team,” said Duchman.
Questions from council concerned the club’s current relationship with the city, membership levels and the possibility of privatization. The latter was largely ruled out for a variety of reasons, ranging from the course’s limited value due to the lack of real estate development potential and the poor state of the clubhouse, explained Austin.
As for the relationship with the city, the club has a lease agreement with the city, but that’s about it, said Duchman. She said the club looks after the interior of the clubhouse, but the city is responsible for exteriors and structural issues.
Afterwards, Mayor Mark McKee expressed his support for the golf course, though he didn’t commit to any funding going forward. “Golfing is an important recreation facility in the community and I’m hoping there’s a way we can work together and become part of the solution to the problems,” he said.