North Okanagan golf course up for sale and eyed for development - InfoNews

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North Okanagan golf course up for sale and eyed for development

The Royal York Golf Club in Armstrong is up for sale.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/The Royal York Golf Club
May 23, 2019 - 1:00 PM

ARMSTRONG - The Royal York Golf Club in Armstrong is the latest North Okanagan course currently on the market, and although the York family who owns the club have accepted an offer, the future of the roughly 50-acre site is far from certain.

Royal York Golf Club owner operator Todd York told the family accepted an offer from Vernon based N&T Properties last December after the course had been on the market for eight years.

"We have accepted an offer from a local firm, but their intention, of course, is not to keep it as a golf course their intention is to develop it," York said.

"Our hope was to sell it as a golf course... [but] due to the decline of playership in the golf industry, nobody's interested in buying the golf course, nor will lending institutions lend you money to do so," York said.

In April, the Salmon Arm Golf Club announced it was putting the club on the market, citing among other reasons a decline in the sport.

While there are plenty of rumours circling around the town about the golf course's fate, York said regardless of what does happen, 2019 will be the final season as the Royal York Golf Course.

York said it was "premature" to announce N&T Properties as the buyers, because the developers had yet to make an application to the City of Armstrong.

City of Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper confirmed no development or rezoning permit had been received by the City. Pieper wouldn't comment about how council may vote if they received a request to rezone the land for development, saying it was impossible to comment on an application that didn't exist.

And while the prospective buyer hasn't indicated publicly what they would like to do with the land, a group of residents have formed and are determined that council retain the site's current zoning.

Armstrong Green Space Society president Lindsay Thachuk said the group do not want to see the golf course rezoned to allow development.

"We don't have anything against the York's selling the property, we're against the fact that's it's being sold off and destroying a community asset," Thachuk said.

Thachuk said a large housing development on the site would not only destroy the green space, but it would also be costly for Armstrong citizens who would have to pay for the extra services the development needed. Thachuk disputes the idea the extra property tax would cover the added expenditure.

Thachuk said ideally Armstrong would buy the course and a not-for-profit society could be set up to run it.

Mayor Pieper said the course would be very expensive for the city to buy and he hadn't heard of such a proposal.

However, York says the society was formed after they learned an offer had been accepted for the course.

"The Green Space Society popped up and was initiated by a number of members who don't want the inconvenience of having to play elsewhere," York said. "They don't want the course to close because they'd then have farther to travel to play golf." 

"It's not about the green space its specifically about my sale and my sale only," York said.

York said the club opened in 1990 and had done well until about a decade ago when golf started to decline. An ageing demographic retiring from golf, combined with the overbuilding of golf courses built as the hub of development and the financial crash in 2008 all took a toll on the sport. Less players and more golf courses meant clubs started to compete against each and lower rates. York reiterated even if someone does want to buy a golf course banks aren't willing to lend them the cash.

British Columbia Golf chief executive officer Kris Jonasson said golf is growing in B.C. with 858,000 playing at least one round of golf in 2018. Jonasson said it's not true to say the game is dying but it is evolving in different ways pointing to indoor golf and simulator golf being popular.

He did admit in some areas of the province, including the Okanagan, golf courses had been overbuilt. 

The situation has left the Armstrong and Salmon Arm clubs trying to sell in a market that doesn't want to buy golf courses.

"We'd have preferred to sell the course as a course, but really its never going to happen, people aren't going to buy into an industry that's suffering loses each year and banks are never going to lend you money to buy a golf course, its a shame," York said.

N&T Properties was not immediately available for comment.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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