There’s no application before council to rezone Armstrong’s Royal York Golf Course for development with the links possibly being sold to an Okanagan company, but the potential for development there has a city councillor thinking ahead.
The Royal York is close to being sold by the York family to N&T Properties, who have stated, in a letter circulated by course owners the York family, an intention 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.”
The Yorks, in the same letter, announced to course members they are selling after nearly 30 years of operating as a golf course because “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 course will be open for 2019 with an option to continue operating subsequent seasons until N&T is prepared to begin construction.
Armstrong councillor Jim Wright said although an official application for rezoning of the existing Royal York Golf course has not been received by the city, the vendor’s confirmation that it is coming is cause for concern.
“The reality of the 2014 master water plan report and recommendations, the reality of the needed upgrades in the 2017 sewerage report, as well as the recent Dec. 22 flood and drainage risk mapping report and recommendations present red flags to not proceed with new residential developments above the floodplain,” said Wright.
“The facts in these three reports to city council should cause the city to freeze any further residential developments until the necessary improvements and upgrades are completed. Funding is also a concern.”
Wright said increased storm sewer discharge from new developments above the floodplain during the freshet months would cause an additional negative impact on residences near the lower town floodplain. Most of the near 400 millimetres of yearly rainfall occurs during the freshet months and causes increased risk to the existing lower town floodplain.
The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ resource managers have expressed concerns to the fish habitat and creek sustainability in the Meighan and Deep Creek streams and floodplain area, said Wright.
“Recent hastily approved developments and residences near the floodplain have been, and will be, exposed to higher flood risk unless a freeze is implemented until the risk assessment is reduced considerably,” said Wright. “I would highly recommend that Armstrong city council reject any proposed request for changes to the Official Community Plan, and any rezoning applications, for the Royal York Golf property and other properties located above the newly mapped city floodplain.”
A newly formed, unnamed committee of Armstrong residents has sent a letter to council expressing their concerns about development after the course is sold, saying the development could add as many as 200 new homes, and the impact of such should warrant serious consideration from council.
N&T Properties told The Morning Star there is little to be said at this point, with things “in the early stages,” but once they are further into the process, they “look forward to keeping the community informed.”