A group of five Chestermere residents is proposing to purchase Lakeside Golf Club, in an effort to prevent the course from being redeveloped into a residential neighbourhood.
Alan Stiff, the owner of KC Seals Inc. in Calgary, said he and four other long-term residents of the lakeside city have made an offer to Glen Carr and Wayne McBean to buy the struggling amenity.
While Stiff did not disclose the names of the other four members – nor the price they are proposing to purchase the amenity – he claimed their offer is “substantially” more than $1.2 million and at least one of the group’s members has experience in golf course management.
“First of all, we’ve all lived in Chestermere, I’ve been here for 22 years and I believe some of these guys have been here longer,” Stiff said. “We’re all members of the golf course, we’re all business owners and run successful businesses. We believe we could make the golf course very viable and we strive to make Lakeside Greens Golf Course a place all Chestermerians are proud of. We know what it takes to make successful businesses.”
Lakeside Golf Club’s future has been a source of debate in Chestermere since last September, when McBean and Carr entered into a partnership with development company Slokker Homes to rezone and redevelop the 18-hole course into a new residential community, contingent on approval from the municipality.
The proposal has led to backlash from Chestermere residents, particularly those who live near the golf course. In October 2020, a group that calls themselves the Lakeside Greens Golf Course Preservation Society drafted a petition against Slokker Homes’ plans that has garnered more than 3,600 signatures.
“The preservation society is thrilled with the news that a group of Chestermere business people are attempting to purchase the golf course,” a statement from the preservation society read. “We hope this demonstrates the interest and viability of our course and puts an end to the discussion of rezoning for development.”
In response to the purchase offer, Slokker Homes President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Paauw said “an informal offer was made by e-mail” but added the offer was “far below what would be considered a serious offer.” He said there was also no legal representation on behalf of the five individuals.
“Fair market value as vacant land would be at least $15 million,” he said. “Keeping it open as a golf course is a losing proposition.
“Please remember this is private land and the property owners have no wish to sell at this time, as is their right.”
In both media interviews and at two public information sessions held March 9 and 11, Paauw stressed Lakeside Golf Club is not financially feasible. He cited a recent viability study by accountancy firm MNP that determined the course was operating at a 32 per cent revenue shortfall and suffered from a declining annual membership from 2014 to 2019.
While Slokker Homes has not presented an official application to the City of Chestermere yet, Paauw said the company will continue to engage with residents to come up with a vision for a residential and retail development that includes 1,200 homes, a “main street” concept and other community amenities. He added the company intends to present to City council later this year.
“We look forward to working with the citizens of Chestermere, the City of Chestermere and council to draft a winning proposal that represents the highest and best use for the land, that will benefit all citizens, rather than a dwindling number of members in the golf club,” he said. “Our vision is of an attractive main street with commercial benefits, jobs and a vibrant local economy, as well as an extensive bike and pathway system accessible to the public.”
But the five Chestermere residents say they and other residents of the city would hate to lose the local golf course, which has operated west of Chestermere Lake for nearly three decades.
“Fair credit to Mr. McBean. He did a great job and he’s run the golf course for many years,” said Stiff, who said he lives across from the golf course’s clubhouse. “I just believe his interest has run out and his mindset has totally changed. I don’t think his heart is in the golf course anymore, whereas us being investors, we would definitely be interested in making this course profitable.”
Stiff said there’s no timeline attached to the group's offer and they are awaiting a response from the golf course’s ownership.