Armstrong’s lone golf course has been conditionally sold.
The York family, which owns and operates the Royal York Golf Course, has accepted an offer from Armstrong realtor Patrick Place and his Royal York Estates Ltd. group, pending completion of all requirements.
No sale price was disclosed.
The Yorks have been trying to sell the course for a number of years, and thought they had an accepted offer in place in 2018 and 2019 from an umbrella group of Vernon’s Kal Tire, N&T Properties. But the tire company group pulled their offer off the table prior to the fall of 2019.
“Our plan is to reduce the previous golf course into a nine-hole executive par-3 pitch-and-putt course,” said Place, joined in the purchase by partner John Groeneveld. “We are also planning up to 200 houses. It’s all viable.”
Place earlier helped develop 45 houses at the course on the site of the old driving range.
The Yorks will retain a portion of the property, will be shareholders in the proposed development, which will include affordable and attainable housing, an off-leash dog park, a daycare building, new walking trails and a putting green, and will also be involved in day-to-day operations of the new-look course.
The course’s existing clubhouse will remain. Mr. and Mrs. Bruce York will continue to live in the existing house on the course.
The 200 houses would be phased in over 10 years (or earlier) and plans, for now, call for the existing course to remain operational through 2020.
“When Kal Tire backed out in 2019, I looked at the property and tried to come up with a solution that was different than eliminating the golf course 100 per cent,” said Place, saying the original plan was to “wipe out the course” that opened in 1990. “I’ve tried to come up with something more acceptable to the community.”
Place will set up an informational tent with social distancing regulations at the golf course on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 13-15, so people can look at his plan and ask questions. He has completed a sewer modeling plan, is working on a water modeling plan and will conduct a traffic study after his official public meeting.
That meeting, open to everyone with social distancing rules in place, will run Saturday, Aug. 15, at 7 p.m. outside the Royal York clubhouse.
Place expects to make a formal application to Armstrong council in September.
One group that wants to see the golf course stay the way it is, is the Armstrong Green Space Society, formed in 2018 after word of the course’s sale to N&T Properties got out.
“We want to stop the whole development,” said society spokesperson Lindsay Tkachuk. “We support the current zoning that’s been in place for 30 years, and the OCP (Official Community Plan) which says it (golf course property) is parkland-commercial.”
The society had hoped the city would purchase the course.
Tkachuk said the sale will “destroy a community asset.”
“We’re not here to argue the placement of homes backed onto the golf course, and not argue the number of homes, that’s totally irrelevant,” he said. “It’s going to take away the community asset.”
Society member Ron Smeeth bought his house in the first Royal York development because he wanted to spend retirement in a home that backed onto a golf course.
“That was the intent when we moved here three years ago,” he said.
The society, which Tkachuk says has more than 50 members, held a public meeting in January 2019 about the first proposed sale of the golf course that drew nearly 200 people, jammed into Armstrong’s Centennial Theatre. At the time, there was nothing firm in terms of plans for the property, merely rumours that N&T would build a 200-home development on the site.
“Armstrong, in its OCP, states we want to have amenities here, services here,” said Tkachuk that evening. “We do not want to be a bedroom community to Vernon. This development takes away one of the amenities and creates exactly opposite what the city has in the OCP.”
Place said he reviewed the OCP and the No. 1 thing people want to see in Armstrong is more walking trails, something, he said, he has addressed with his plan.