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Saanich looks at fee hikes, annual pass removal for Cedar Hill Golf Course

District moving forward with plan following golf services review, members feel slighted
The District of Saanich is undertaking changes for Cedar Hill Golf Course that staff say will help make the municipal run course more financially sustainable in the long term. (Black Press Media file photo)

Changes are coming to Cedar Hill Golf Course as the District of Saanich plans to put in place recommendations from an independent golf services review.

The review was conducted in early 2021 by Global Golf Associates, a firm that advises many of the world’s most successful golf courses. It found several areas where the popular 18-hole Saanich course could be made more financially sustainable, including altering its model for fees and rates, as well recommendations for course drainage.

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Among the revenue changes are that the golf course increase its peak green fee rate and realign discounted fees based on the peak rate, and phase out the annual pass program and replace it with a continuous or ‘flex’ pass.

Saanich resident and avid golfer, Wayne Messer, has been a Cedar Hill member for more than 10 years and said he and others he golfs with are not happy about the proposed changes.

“I give them $2,300 a year in advance, so in their mind I’m paying less than those under the new model,” he said, noting it feels like the district is trying to get rid of its loyalty club members.

The proposed changes mean the club agreement would come to an end and green fee players would pay $51 per round – Messer and his fellow season’s pass holders pay on average about $23 per round.

“They want to increase their average take of the rounds and we’re in the way on that,” he said.

Messer called Cedar Hill a “working man’s golf course,” an affordable option for people who don’t have the option of playing on a private golf course where season’s passes cost as much as $3,000 to $5,000 per year. He is disappointed this may come to an end, since he and his group have been loyal to the club for many years.

The staff report presented to council on Wednesday (Sept. 23) recommended phasing the annual passes out after the 2022-23 season. An option for mitigating the impact on pass holders could see those golfers offered an opportunity to purchase a pass for the 2023-24 season, the report stated.

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Other consultant recommendations included for Saanich to establish an operating model where a golf management contractor would run both golf operations and food and beverage services, as a way to more closely align with municipal golf course practices. Cedar Hill is the only municipally run 18-hole golf course in Greater Victoria.

Tiana Solares, Saanich’s senior manager for recreation services, concluded in the staff report, that “it is critical to plan for a sustainable future for the course, and continue to improve value for money for both golfers and taxpayers in general.”

Updating the rate structure and changing the relationship with the user groups and the club’s operations will allow the course to maximize revenue and provide value to taxpayers, she added.

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