After years of trying to sell, Armstrong’s Royal York Golf Course has officially announced it will be closing its fairways after next season.
Having served the community for 28 years, the operators reached out to its clients to explain why the decision had been made.
“Unfortunately, the golf industry is suffering a serious decline in rounds being played and course owners and operators are having to make some difficult decisions. With banks making the unilateral decision that the golf industry is a bad investment, potential buyers have no borrowing capacity.”
The York family also extended a thank you to its patrons, letting them know that they had hoped to stay open but have been suffering due to lack of membership numbers and walk-in rounds continually decreasing.
“As you can well imagine, this is difficult news to deliver, both to our players and the neighbourhood in general. We realize this will have no small impact but no one is saddened more than we are. Its been a wonderful 30 years for my family thanks to all of you.”
Despite a decline in numbers and profit, the Yorks said the decision came after being unsuccessful in finding a buyer that fit the qualities that would allow a seamless transition.
They have announced that they have found one that fits their criteria: N&T properties, an Okanagan-based company.
“Their intention is to create a residential opportunity that respects the neighbourhood and the natural beauty of the property by incorporating lots of green space, linear parks and recreation opportunity.”
However, in the meantime, they have assured the community that nothing will change.
“A project of this scope takes time to plan and execute so we will be open for the 2019 season with an option to continue operating subsequent seasons until N&T is prepared to begin construction.”
In a statement to The Morning Star, N&T properties said when it came to their attention that the Yorks were looking to retire, they began discussions with them as to what they might envision the 60+ parcel of land, knowing there’s been little interest to purchase a golf course as a sustainable business.
“We share the same view as the Yorks when it comes to understanding the importance of being stewards of this beautiful area,” said Andrew Kurbis, spokesperson for N&T Properties. “Our intention is to invest and create a residential real estate opportunity that’s in sync with the natural beauty of this property and incorporates lots of green space and walking paths. We look forward to the wonderful prospect to be a part of the Armstrong community.
A group of citizens are hoping to form a society opposed to development on the course.
In a letter to Armstrong council and The Morning Star, the as-yet-unnamed society said the impact of a huge development that could add 200 new homes where the golf course sits warrants “serious consideration.”
“With our infrastructure lagging, all residents should be aware that such a large development will only increase these (water and sewer) costs, not reduce them,” wrote the group. “In most cities, the cost of providing services to residential properties is subsidized by property taxes on commercial and industrial properties.”
The would-be society said highway access to the proposed development is “not an option.”
“The reality is that all increased traffic will flow on to Okanagan Avenue. Residents on Okanagan already have concerns about traffic volume.”
The group suggests a restructuring of the Royal York to support some limited affordable housing on excess land while maintaining most of the green space is a viable option and worth considering.
Both letters came up at Armstrong council Monday.
“There have been no applications received for the Royal York Golf Course at this time,” said chief administrative officer Kevin Bertles.
Coun. Paul Britton also denounced rumours that council knew about the potential sale prior to the Oct. 15 municipal elections.
“These are letters are the first we’ve heard about it,” he said. “It’s been said we knew about it ahead of time. That’s wrong.”
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