Vernon council backs down from golf course water rate hike
By Howard Alexander
Predator Ridge is one of the local golf courses getting a reprieve from the City of Vernon on its irrigation water bill.
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November 12, 2014 - 7:34 AM
VERNON – Golf courses who buy reclaimed or grey water from the City of Vernon to irrigate won’t be gouged with an almost doubling of rates after all.
City councillors voted unanimously this week to freeze the rates for spray irrigation at 2013 levels.
Representatives from the local golf courses pleaded with the councillors at their meeting on Oct. 28 for a break on escalating water rates and their pleas didn’t fall on deaf ears.
Bob Evans with Predator Ridge calls the rates his course pays for water punitive and feels their presentation to council was a wake-up call for the city.
Predator’s irrigation water rate jumped from $86,000 for 2013, to over $143,000 for 2014, he says. When you compare the rates other municipalities in the Okanagan charge golf courses to what Vernon charges, the difference is staggering.
Evans says golf courses in Osoyoos and Penticton get the reclaimed water for free, while The Harvest Club in Kelowna is charged $17,500 a year to irrigate.
“The golf course business is difficult and challenging these days. Golf rounds are down and the whole industry is struggling,” he says. “For us this is just one more foundational element we had to bring under control to make ourselves viable as a business.”
Julie Knobloch from Vernon Golf and Country Club says the rate freeze, “gives us time to sit down with the city… and talk about it.”
Evans agrees saying representatives from the local golf courses are enthusiastic about working out solutions that are feasible and economically sustainable for both parties, the City and the golf industry.
“We look at ourselves as businesses that provide more than just golf rounds to the community. We contribute through real estate sales and other spinoffs; hotel rooms, meals and all the normal tourism things.”
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