A neighbourhood meeting hosted by the owners of the former Royal Oak Golf Course had to be cancelled when more than 120 people showed up on Saturday.
Invitations went out to each household of the Royal Links North and South townhouse stratas that line much of the former golf course’s fairways. The Cordero family has owned the property since 2002 and planned the meeting to share ideas on a proposed redevelopment of the former golf course with residents of Royal Links North and South, and surrounding complexes, said Cordero family friend and longtime developer Geoff Hughes.
“We anticipated about 30 to 40 people, we had refreshments ready, but it was just too many people and we had to cancel,” Hughes said. “Unfortunately, there is no room at the former golf club that can hold more than 50 people.”
In the fall of 2015 the Cordero family closed the Royal Oak Golf Course after eight years of losing more than $100,000 a year, Hughes said. The golf course was for sale but the family pulled it off the market when it failed to attract a buyer. Since then the Cordero family has met a few times with Saanich Planning about the possibilities of rezoning the land for the purposes of development.
Since then, there has been a minimal level of maintenance on the golf course. Some neighbours walk their dogs on it, others will go for a run through it. It’s almost being treated like a park and that’s understandable, Hughes said, as long as neighbours realize that golf was one type of land use for the 27 acres, and now it’s time for another.
“Saanich made it clear the owners should consult with the neighbours before moving ahead and that’s just what we were trying to do on Saturday,” said Hughes.
Rezoning will be essential for the property, as 20 of the 27 acres are within the Agricultural Land Reserve. The golf course falls between Beaver Lake Park, the 111 units of Royal Links North and South townhouses on Marsett Place, more townhouses on Castleton Place and Saanich Commonwealth Place Park.
“At the end of the day, the Corderos love the property and want to keep a green space and trees, that’s why they want to talk to the neighbours. They aren’t interested in running a farm there.”
Those Castleton and Marsett residents who did make it inside for the meeting on Saturday couldn’t hear themselves speak, said Bob Law, president of the Royal Links North strata.
Law is on a five-member Royal Links committee that has liaised with Hughes and the Cordero family regarding the future of the golf course. Law also said some of the residents were put off as they were eager to learn about the golf course’s future. Not to worry, said Hughes, adding there will still be a chance for all to have their say as the family has made no development proposal to Saanich, nor is it ready to make an application for withdrawal from the Agricultural Land Commission.
“We’re taking a different strategy. We’ve sent a letter out to the neighbours [this week] and we invite feedback, and we plan to continue to meet with groups but in smaller sessions,” Hughes said. “Even if we had planned for Saturday’s info session to be in a large enough venue [for 120 to 150 people] it wouldn’t be the right venue to hear everyone speak.”
Neighbours can send their concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.