Once upon a time, a man or woman could work hard, save, and buy a business. They would build the business and support their family and the community by creating jobs and being a good corporate citizen. Once the business had reached maturity and the business was an asset. The owners could sell their property and business to the highest bidder and then use the money to retire and pass along the legacy to the sons and daughters in the family. Business ownership was the Canadian dream and a strong work ethic inspired the nation. The market economy and the pioneers that built the west depended on entrepreneurs to build and thrive.
Today, I am sickened to see the owners of the Royal York being challenged by the Armstrong Green Space Society. As a long-term resident and member of the Royal York golf club, I know that the York family have been good citizens over the 30 plus years in business. You can’t count the number of worthy organizations that have benefited from fundraising golf tournaments that the family has sponsored over that time.
The York family have kept the golf course running in good times and bad. To hear the news that the course can no longer operate as-is is a reflection of the times. Golf courses are struggling across the country. The redevelopment plan to sell and reduce the size of the course to an executive course and develop much needed residential homes is a viable plan. Having a group of people that likely never created a job in their lives tell us that the proposed plan is bad, is heavy-handed and wrong. And as citizens, we should be telling council to support the thoughtful York family development plan. The plan ensures that golfers will have a quality executive course and that the non-golfing community will have green spaces and dog trails. And most importantly families will have homes to live and stay in the community that they grew up in. The society tries to sow the seeds of fear in community by linking flooding a few years ago with the redevelopment. However, all drainage issues have been taken into account and much-needed city infrastructure improvements are part of the plan.
The plan that sells part of the 65 acres, adds trails and much-needed housing is a win-win solution. The society’s claim that this destroys parkland is ham-handed and irresponsible. The York family did not buy parkland. The York’s bought land, developed a private golf course, grew the business, created jobs and supported those in need in our North Okanagan communities. The societies suggestion that the City of Armstrong buy the land and transfer it to a non-profit is an irresponsible use of taxpayer’s money. If the Green Space Society wants to buy the land, well then, the society should get out their wallets and be willing to pay a fair market price for the entire 65 acres. Otherwise, as far as I can see local governments role should be to support the viable plan that has been submitted. We should all support those that have contributed to our community for over three decades. Otherwise, hard work, entrepreneurship, the Canadian dream and private property rights will become just another fable.
Former MP Okanagan Shuswap