Maple Ridge Golf Course asks for a break

Plans to pump in $202,000 into course upgrades, if base rent can stay at $120,000

  • Mar. 8, 2013 1:00 p.m.
The municipal golf course has seen fewer golfers in recent years

The municipal golf course has seen fewer golfers in recent years

In exchange for a break from the District of Maple Ridge on the rent during tough times, the operators of the Maple Ridge Golf Course want to speed up renovations – to keep the greens bringing in the green.

As with other courses around the Lower Mainland, Maple Ridge Golf Course has seen a drop in revenues and fewer golfers.

So to keep the course in good shape and to keep people coming out, the operators of the course want to plow in more money and speed up their renovation schedule.

“We’re optimistic. We wouldn’t be optimistic if we weren’t proposing to invest almost $202,000 into the facility,” said Joe Camara, with Region View Recreation Services, which operates the municipal course.

“We want to improve the facility so we can improve revenues and attract more golfers.”

Under the first six years of the deal between the District of Maple Ridge and Region View Recreation Services, the municipality got a minimum yearly rent of $120,000 – or 20 per cent of gross revenues, whichever was greater.

That was scheduled to jump this year to $140,000 for the remaining six years of the agreement.

Region View, though, is proposing the rate remain at $120,000 yearly for the rest of the term.

In return, Region View will do $202,000 in renovations, which are called for in the agreement, ahead of the schedule.

Camara wants to improve drainage on fairways, rebuild the third green, build a new cart path and improve fencing.

That work is in addition to the $370,000 Region View has already spent on the course in the first six years, including a new roof on the club house.

If council approves the offer made at its committee meeting Monday, it could be a win-win for both.

“If additional capital improvements lead to an increase in usership, the municipality will collect more than the $140,000 a year anyway,” said director of parks and facilities David Boag.

The presentation to council included background about other courses that are struggling, such as Ledgeview Golf Course in Abbotsford and Cheam and Aquadel in Chilliwack.

The Maple Ridge Golf Course has its own tale of declining revenues, which plunged by almost $170,000 when pre-recession figures of $769,800 in 2007 are compared with 2011.

Last year, though, revenues rebounded by about $35,000 – to $635,622.

Boag said golf courses may not be alone in the downturn.

“I think it may be just the tough economy. I think it’s quite a range of things and golf may just be one of those.”

But Camara says the industry is having a tough time. Competition is fierce and many courses are struggling.

The weather hasn’t helped over the past five years either. Cold, wet springs have kept people off the courses except for summer months.

“Spring and fall have really hurt us the most. We just don’t get the springs we used to rely on.”

Still, Camara has high hopes. The local nine-hole course gets visitors from Langley and he wants to increase awareness in the Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam area. And there’s always the hope that legions of retiring baby boomers will get back on to the greens.

“We’re really trying to get the word out to Langley and Tri-City ,who seem to not know about us very much.”

Camara said the course is good for beginners and intermediates, but also has some challenging parts.

“We have beautiful, scenic views along the Fraser River.”

And nearby is a stand of maple trees which gave the municipality its name when it was formed in 1874.