EDITORIAL: Golf courses can’t be ignored

Vernon and RDNO officials need to sit down with the golf courses and discuss water rates

At a time when the North Okanagan’s economy continues to struggle, the plight of local golf courses should be taken seriously.

Predator Ridge, the Rise and Vernon Golf and Country Club insist they are being hammered by the rates the City of Vernon charges for reclaimed (effluent) water for irrigation.

“This is extremely punishable for the industry as a whole,” said Terry Yacyshen, general manager at the Rise.

And that appears to be an understatement. Predator Ridge says its cost will climb from $143,352 in 2014 to $234,587 next year while VGCC and the Rise are also looking at significant spikes. In comparison, a course in Penticton is not charged to use reclaimed water while a course in Osoyoos pays $1 a year. Other courses in the Okanagan use potable water but the price is still substantially less than here.

The concerns of the three courses arise as Hillview Golf continues to struggle with increased potable water fees from the Regional District of North Okanagan.

Obviously water — whether it is potable or reclaimed — is a valuable resource and there is a cost to local governments to provide it, whether it’s treatment or the pipes in the ground.

However, we all need to understand that the golf industry is vital to the region. It not only brings tourists here, but these courses employ hundreds of people and affiliated real estate developments draw new residents to the area. Vernon also avoid the contentious issue of pumping waste water into Okanagan Lake because golf courses are willing to use it for irrigation.

Vernon and RDNO officials need to sit down with the golf courses and find a solution that meets everyone’s needs.