REDCLIFF, AB — Riverview Golf Club will be staying open, for the time being.
During an emergency meeting Thursday evening, club members overwhelmingly voted down a motion to declare bankruptcy and turn the keys to the course over to the town. They instead voted in favour of a motion to create a committee, featuring club members, town residents and town councillors to find a workable solution for the course.
“A motion was made tonight to form one final, last ditch effort to try to make a board to see if some middle grounds can be reached to get some confidence back in the course, and maybe we can help them out in some way or another,” said Councillor Chris Czember, who was in attendance at the meeting and indicated he would be part of the new committee.
Czember says he supports the golf club, and does not want to see the course go anywhere.
“If there’s one last-ditch effort to save the golf course right now, that would be ideal,” he said. “If not, we’ll see what the future can bring with the golf course, and I truly believe we will still have a golf course in the future here.”
Earlier this month, the club revealed they had amassed short term debt of $405,000, and were having trouble paying it.
Members have spoken twice to town council during in-camera meetings in October, with Richard Lant saying they felt their plan showed the club could pay off its debt and remain viable. The plan included a cash drive among members, changing board members, finding cost savings and a five-year plan.
Once Redcliff town council returned to open council meetings, motions made to help the course were defeated.
“I’ve just spent six weeks on this, and I thought this was a very, very viable plan, and it was defeated and we don’t know why it was defeated, and that’s what bothers me the most,” said Lant following the meeting. “If you lose a tender on something, you know you’ve lost it because of price. If you present a plan, and it’s making money, and it’s sustaining itself, you should know why you lost it, in my books. We couldn’t get than answer tonight.”
Redcliff Mayor Dwight Kilpatrick was in attendance at the meeting, alongside Czember and Councillor Larry Leipert. At one point, he made his way to the podium to address those in attendance.
Kilpatrick said he could not divulge what was discussed during in-camera meetings due to the Municipal Government Act, but confirmed motions were made to loan money to the golf course were made during open council and were defeated.
Kilpatrick also noted the passion for the golf course among members, but noted there have been problems with the course in recent years which had resulted in the debt, citing mismanagement of the club and course.
“I think there are people who have left this golf course because of management problems, changes in the way of operations, those aren’t my fault,” he said. "If you want to lay them on town council, you go ahead. I’ve got bus tracks on my back already, I don’t care. But, wake up people. This $405,000 is not a town thing, this is a golf course thing. And if it took this far for someone to realize that there’s issues, that’s too bad, it really is.
“Nobody on council wants to see the end of this golf course, nobody. I can tell you that. But nobody wants to keep lending this golf course money.”
During the meeting, Kilpatrick and Lant exchanged heated remarks about the course.
“You can throw me under the bus, I do not care,” said Kilpatrick. “But I did not get you here. You got you here.”
“We gave you a plan to go forward, it cost nothing, it was not costing the taxpayer any money, and you can’t even tell us why the vote was defeated, on a plan that proved it was viable,” said Lant. “That’s what I think we need to know.”
“I do not believe that everything he said was total fact,” said Kilpatrick following the meeting. “It definitely seemed to have a slant that the town is the biggest reason why this golf course is in financial difficulties, and I do take offence to that remark.”
“Other than that, the members have to do what they can to keep the golf course running, and I leave it up to them.”
Kilpatrick says the town leases the land to the club for $1, and have given the club loans to be paid back in the past.
Lant, who resigned from the board Thursday evening, says Redcliff town council knew a decision needed to be made quickly to ensure the club would remain viable.
“Here we are, six weeks later, and we’ve accomplished nothing,” he said. “We’re no further ahead today than we were six weeks ago.”
The club is currently being run by volunteers for the time being, with plans to close for the winter starting next week, according to acting president Dean Schmaltz.
Schmaltz says he expects the committee will form and begin acting quickly to ensure the club is still around next year.
"Both groups need to come together, start talking freely with each other, and try to be reasonable with each other," he said.
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