Predator Ridge makes its case with the city

There’s much more to Predator Ridge than just rounds of golf.

There’s much more to Predator Ridge than just rounds of golf.

Representatives of Wesbild Okanagan, which owns the golf resort community, presented an economic impact study to Vernon council Monday that shows the resort contributes millions annually to the local economy, and has become one of Vernon’s top-six largest employers.

“We’re here today with the purest and best intentions of improving our relations with the City of Vernon, and reinforcing our position as a community stakeholder,” said Brad Pelletier, vice-president of Wesbild Okanagan. “We’re proud of our civic responsibility and our many contributions, and I’m excited to see the sizeable investment our company has made in the City of Vernon.”

Founded in 1981, Wesbild first invested in the Okanagan in 2005 by acquiring Vernon’s Turtle Mountain, then Predator Ridge Resort and community two years later.

What attracted the company to Vernon, said Pelletier, was Vernon’s “strategic location” and its many lifestyle amenities for its residents.

According to Vancouver-based Urbanics Consultants Ltd., Wesbild invested $133 million in 2011 to further develop Predator Ridge and Turtle Mountain. That remitted $4.4 million in development cost charges to the City of Vernon.

“That created 329 direct and 84 indirect employment positions,” said Pelletier, joined for the presentation by Wesbild Okanagan’s development manager, Jason Kelder, and marketing manager Ingrid Dilschneider. “It puts Predator Ridge among the top-six largest employers in Vernon.”

Kelder told council that 49.6 per cent of the 2011 building permits issued in Vernon were for Wesbild projects, and that the property tax contribution from Predator Ridge was $1.5 million and $427,000 from Turtle Mountain.

“From now to 2023, Predator Ridge will remit $85 million in property taxes,” said Kelder.

In 2011, there were 27,000 accommodation guests at Predator who spent an average of $1.1 million on business services outside of the resort. They hosted 65,000 golf rounds last year, 45,000 of which were played by visitors.

“In the past five years, we’ve spent 47.5 million in marketing our products,” said Dilschneider.

“There has been $848,000 in advertising value spent through our public relations efforts in the last two years. We’ve invested an estimated $10,000 in media tours to journalists from across the country.”

Dilschneider pointed out that Wesbild has contributed $240,000 to local organizations such as the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation through its fundraising activities, and how Wesbild aligned itself with Hockey Canada – which now calls Predator Ridge home during the summer.

“We are the only golf course in Canada to have this privilege,” said Dilschneider.

Dilschneider also informed the city that Predator Ridge was omitted from Vernon’s 2012 visitor’s guide.

“That’s like Toronto not having the CN Tower in its visitor’s guide,” said Dilschneider.

“It can’t happen again so it’s important to have closer relations with the city. We need you to lead with your strengths.”

Mayor Rob Sawatzky thanked the trio for their presentation.

“We are very appreciative of what assets Predator Ridge and Sparkling Hill are,” said Sawatzky. “We’re very appreciative that you’ve survived some tough economic times, and we’re very apologetic that you were missed in the visitor’s guide.”

City of Vernon tourism services manager Michelle Jefferson said the error occurred in editing.

“We work with some writers and designers as well as myself as the lead on it, and in the 2010 and 2011 versions we did have articles on Predator. Unfortunately, in this one, it missed all of our eyes when we were looking at it,” said Jefferson.

“When we were made aware of this, we did take some steps to support Predator because they are such an amazing tourism entity for our community.”

The city has changed its policy and procedure for producing the visitor guide to make sure multiple eyes edit the final product.