Vernon officials are vowing to review reclaimed water rates to try and keep golf courses viable.
A delegation from Predator Ridge, the Rise and Vernon Golf and Country Club told council Monday that charges for reclaimed (effluent) water will increase from $224 a hectare in 2005 to $3,199 in 2015.
“I’m shocked at the disproportionate amount these businesses pay compared to their competitors. It’s not fair,” said Coun. Brian Quiring.
The courses want the city to work with them to determine an economically viable rate schedule and to reconsider the 2014 annual allocation fee for irrigation.
“It’s an issue that will get a lot of sympathy from council and staff,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.
“It will occupy much of the next council.”
According to the golf courses, the rate for reclaimed water will go from $143,352 in 2014 at Predator Ridge to $234,587 in 2015 and from $31,103 to $50,400 at the Rise. It’s expected to climb from no charge to $141,000 at the Vernon Golf and Country Club.
The delegation also included Hillview Golf, which has seen rates climb for potable water under the Regional District of North Okanagan (waste water is not available there).
“If we were profitable, we wouldn’t be in front of you,” said Terry Yacyshen, general manager at the Rise.
“This is extremely punishable for the industry as a whole.”
In other communities, Kelowna Golf and Country Club pays $16,000 annually for domestic water, while it’s $12,000 at Gallagher’s Canyon in Kelowna and $15,000 at the Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club. In terms of effluent water, Penticton Golf and Country is not charged and Osoyoos Golf and Country pays $1 annually.
“Our industry is a major economic contributor,” said Yacyshen of employment, tourism, development and taxation.
“Our primary goal is to ensure our economic viability.”
The courses say they are looking at alternatives to reduce water costs, including drilling wells and alternative land uses.
“Layoffs are a reality and with closure, Hillview has said that is an option,” said Brad Pelletier, with Predator Ridge Resort.
“If we knew these rates were going to be at this level, we’d have never built the Ridge golf course.”
Quiring admits that the golf courses are critical so the city has a way of disposing of treated waste water instead of discharging it into Okanagan Lake.
“We need them on the program so we have somewhere for the spray effluent,” he said.