Mounting financial losses par for the course for majority of City of Calgary golf courses
The City of Calgary confirms four of its six golf courses failed to turn a profit in any year in the period from 2015 to 2017 and the City lost nearly $2 million operating its courses during that time.
In response to a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the City released its revenue and expenses for the six golf courses for 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The following is the net (revenue minus expenses) for each of the City of Calgary golf courses according to the City of Calgary’s ‘Golf Revenue & Expenses by Course: 2015-2017’:
- Shaganappi Point: +$1,158,786 (profits in 2015, 2016 and 2017)
- Confederation: -$204,770 (profit in 2015)
- Lakeview: -$239,852
- Richmond Green: -$469,379
- Maple Ridge: -$562,375
- McCall Lake: -$1,712,848
- Total: -$2,030,440
According to the City of Calgary, the profitability of the courses during that time was impacted by:
- 67 days lost to inclement weather in 2017 (32 per cent of the golf season)
- 65 days lost to inclement weather in 2016 (31 per cent of the golf season)
- The economic downturn
"What the City needs to do is get out of the golf business and leave that up to the private sector so that it doesn’t risk potentially having to subsidize these courses while at the same time raising taxes on everyone else,” said Colin Craig, Alberta director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.“It’s very difficult to justify going to struggling families and businesses and saying to them your property taxes are going up at the same time the City is subsidizing golf courses. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Craig says the City has not spent enough time exploring and addressing the issue of municipally run golf courses and a northeast course serves as a prime example.
“Several years ago with McCall Lake Golf Course, it was slated to be sold off and then some people kind of convinced council to put some more money into it and try and save it," said Craig. "Here we are several years later and it’s still losing money and now the course is shut down for renovations.”
Ward 13 councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart says the financial losses of the municipal courses were invevitable given the economic conditions of late and an unsustainable operating model. "We need to think beyond the box here adn look at different models for these golf courses in the futute to be sustainable."
"We absolutely need to keep our public golf courses but we need a different operating model and we need the private sector involved."
Alan Nicholas, a golfing hobbyist, sees the benefit in municipally owned courses, particularly the impact they have on his wallet. "I thinks it's a good idea. It allows everybody, of evey income level, to have access to a course at a reasonable price."
"I keep looking at courses around the world, and I've played at some, and you're looking at a hundred dollars a round."
With files from CTV's Jordan Kanygin