Club members push back over proposed changes to Cedar Hill Golf Course

Golfers “putt-out” on 18th hole at Saanich’s Cedar Hill Golf Course on Sept. 23, 2021. (CTV News)

The president of the Cedar Hill Golf Club says a report from District of Saanich staff recommending changes to the operation df Cedar Hill Golf Course will hurt the club and its members.

The report, which was scheduled to go before the district’s council Thursday night, recommends an increase in fees and removing the club’s preferred tee time bookings. The report also recommends the club no longer have free use of the course’s clubhouse for functions and meetings.

“If they go ahead with the recommendations of the report and council adopts them, there are some key elements that will probably make members think twice about continuing their membership here,” said Cedar Hill Golf Club president Jeffrey Monty. “I know members will just simply say ‘we’ve had enough and we’re going to walk.’”

Monty says removing the perks the club has enjoyed gives members the impression that the District of Saanich is severing its ties with the club.

“Club members have a very deep interest in this golf course, we’ve had thousands and thousands of volunteer hours planting trees and other things,” said Monty. “It makes me really sad to see how quickly they are trying to sweep the club under the carpet.”

District of Saanich senior manager of recreation Tiana Solares says she understands the concerns of the club, but the proposed changes will make the course more accessible for all golfers.

‘What we are trying to do is provide a little more fairness and equity across the board and less exclusivity to a club-type relationship, which is very rare with municipal golf courses,” said Solares. “We would still like the club to be able to golf here, to book events and tournaments, it’s just the agreement that gives them those certain benefits that’s not sustainable anymore.”

The staff report, which was created with the assistance of an Ontario golf advisory company, includes a proposal that would see a private contractor run both the golf course and concessions in the clubhouse. Saanich will continue to maintain the course and will manage use of the event and boardroom spaces in the clubhouse.

“We periodically review most of our operations in recreation to ensure we are staying on top of industry trends and still providing value for residents,” said Solares. “This was a part of that and the last time the golf course was reviewed was 2009.”

The district has offered the 69-year-old golf club a one-year extension on its agreement with the municipality, which is currently set expire at the end of 2021.

“The whole origins of this golf course was started by golfers and it morphed into the Cedar Hill Golf Club, so we’re part of the DNA of this place,” said Monty. “People will move if they don’t feel part of the organization.”

The report will be presented for Saanich council’s information at Thursday’s meeting. Monty says that he, along with other members of the club, will be on hand to speak against the proposed changes.