Local golf courses plead with city over escalating water rates

Brad Pelletier, vice president of Wesbild Holdings Ltd. addressed Vernon City Council about escalating water rates.

VERNON - Local golf courses are pleading with the City of Vernon for a break on escalating water rates, calling this the most challenging time the industry has ever faced.

Four local golf courses—Predator Ridge, The Rise, Vernon Golf & Country Club and Hillview Golf—told Vernon council they are paying inordinate fees compared to other courses in the Interior.

From 2005 to 2015 the rate for reclaimed water has risen to $3,199/hectare from $224/hectare, representatives said.

“These punishing increases could not come at a more difficult time for the industry,” Wesbild Holdings Ltd. vice president Brad Pelletier said.

He said the Predator Ridge Golf Course pays ten times the amount other users pay and might not have been built if operators knew the rates would be what they are now. Pelletier also cited a major competitive disadvantage when compared to other Okanagan golf courses. For example, he said the Kelowna Golf and Country Club pays $16,000 annually, compared to Predator Ridge paying $234,587 in 2015.

Council heard there could be higher costs to users, layoffs, and possibly closures because of the rise in cost. Operators asked council to reconsider the rate and work with them to develop a fee that is economically viable for both parties.

“Our industry is a major economic contributor to the health of the local economy through employment, tourism, development and taxation,” The Rise general manager Terry Yacyshen said.

Councillors will consider the concerns and confirm the statistics brought forward by the golf courses in the coming weeks. Mayor Rob Sawatzky expects it won’t be a quick solution.

“It’s an issue that I think is going to get a lot of sympathy from council,” Sawatzky says.

It’s a complex situation because the city’s water rates are tied with Greater Vernon’s potable water rates. 

“I think it will occupy much of the next council,” Sawatzky said.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

Editor's Note in response to allegations from Vernon RCMP Supt. Jim McNamara
Editor’s note: • Watch shifts at the Vernon detachment have fallen to as low as three roadable officers. • The department suffers from chronic understaffing. • Sources, who we trust and who have knowledge of the s

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