Revelstoke council is still wrestling with a decision on the golf course club house — more than a year after an engineering report put a $600,000 price tag on repairing the club house and other buildings.
The latest debate stemmed from a request by the Revelstoke Golf Club to put up Hardiplank siding on the club house.
“This is what seemed like a relatively simple request to us to use some donated siding for the exterior of the golf club,” engineering director Mike Thomas told council on Tuesday, May 27. “It prompted a review of what is still outstanding at the golf club and what work could be required if we were to strip the building of the existing siding and what we should do with the building.”
The fact the club house needs significant work isn’t new — a report by Bourcet Engineering was presented to council and discussed in February 2013. It said about $260,000–$340,000 would be needed for structural upgrades to the club house and $190,000–$260,000 for upgrades to the maintenance buildings.
The club house is owned by the city and leased by the golf club; the maintenance buildings are the responsibility of the golf club.
$37,000 was obtained from the tourism infrastructure fund for emergency repairs to get the club house occupiable for the 2013 golf season. Last September, current club president Heather Duchman and director Gerald Doyle took Thomas on a walkthrough of the club house. A report by golf course superintendent Greg Austin further outlined the deteriorating condition of the clubhouse and provided a list of 19 items that needed attention. The list covered almost all aspects of the club house, from the washroom doors to the patio to air conditioning to the windows and beyond. Inside the building, it was noted that all floors required replacing, the entire facility needed to be painted and all lighting required attention.
Eight other buildings at the golf course were also inspected. A cease and desist order was placed on one building and three others were said to be in various states of disrepair. The report recommended removing four of the buildings and replacing them with two new ones. One would replace the washrooms by the sixth tee the other would act as a storage shed.
The Hardiplank request spurred a new report from Mike Thomas that compiled all the known issues with the club house. “In 25 words or less, where do we go from here?” asked Chris Johnston.
The problem amounted to an asset management issue that wasn’t isolated to the club house, said Tim Palmer, the city’s chief administrator.
“Our history is a bit of an ad hoc approach and not seeing the bigger picture,” he told council. “I think if we work together we’ll be able to work towards solutions to make the viability of golfing in Revelstoke a reality for the long term.”
Thomas said the donated siding could be installed right away, but it wasn’t a solution he was recommending. The situation amounted to far more than replacing the siding, but making a decision on what to do with the historic building as a whole.
Mayor David Raven said a decision would have to be made on repairing or replacing the club house. “Every time you read a report there’s something new coming through there,” he said. “Where do you stop and say don’t fix it up and build a new one?”
Coun. Phil Welock said council should take the blame for not budgeting money to repair the club house in the 2014 budget.” We should have budgeted to do repairs in 2014 and not just let it sit,” he said.
Heather Duchman, the president of the Revelstoke Golf Club, is concerned about all the reports coming out on the club house and how they impact the club.
I spoke to her Thursday morning, after the council meeting. She wanted to get the message out that the golf club wasn’t a mess, nor was it just a club full of old people.
“The real positive side about the golf club is our membership in that 40 and under category has grown substantially. Our juniors have grown substantially,” she said.
Last year, after the initial problems surfaced, the club started work on a five year plan. They engaged a consultant, Trevor Smith of Innovative Golf Management Service, to look at the club’s operations and make recommendations on how to improve it. What he came back with involved revamping almost all aspects of the club’s operations — controlling costs, increasing capital expenditures, restructuring and stabilizing operations, hiring a book keeper and someone to manage the golf shop, and initiating more events to bring people out to the club.
Most of them have been implemented, said Duchman. The club directors also worked on a five-year strategic plan and a financial committee was formed to review all financial aspects of the operations.
“We wanted to have a clear and transparent financial plan,” she said. “We wanted to improve communication with council, community partners and stakeholders.”
The club has tried to get more people involved in the sport. They started a program for grade seven students, who come out for lessons on Thursdays. They also launched a new Friday evening program called Grip It and Sip It, where for $20 (or $30 a couple) you get three holes, a bucket of balls, two beers and some appetizers.
They plan on upgrading or replacing the maintenance facilities, and expanding the retail space and food and beverage area.
Recently, volunteers worked to remove danger trees from the golf course and do lots of cosmetic repairs to the facilities like scrubbing down the walls, painting, and replacing the toilet seats in the women’s washroom, said Duchman.
As for the club house: “There’s a little bit of rotting siding out there, but it’s not all doom and gloom,” she said. The major structural issues were addressed last year, paid for from tourism dollars.
The future of the club house would have to be made by city council and staff, said Duchman. She wouldn’t offer any opinion if she preferred to see the building repaired or replaced. “Certainly, I would think their move would be to have a real good look at that building,” she said.
The problems with the club house have been known for more than a year. The Bourcet Engineering report that put a $300,000 price tag on repairs was presented to council in early 2013 and the site tour by senior city staff was conducted in the fall, yet no money was put into the 2014-18 financial plan to address those issues – not even to perform further studies.
I spoke to Mayor Raven to ask why that was the case.
“Because we’ve been looking at the cost of running the city and reduce taxes and be more efficient, the golf course has not come up in that discussion,” he said.
He said the golf course should be thought of along the same lines as the Nordic ski trails or snowmobile trails, where funding has been sought and received to upgrade facilities. The workload to obtain funding should be in the club’s hands.
“We point to the golf club and the golf club points to the city and who actually has the responsibility,” he said. “It is a city owned facility and the city will have to step into it. The golf club has the privilege of using it. That’s where the difficulty comes into it.”
The club house will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future. “We asked staff to come back and say what options do we have,” he said. “What happens if we spend a whole bunch of money on it? What does it get us at the end of the day?”