Riverview Golf Club must play out of fi­nan­cial hole

Red­cliff course faces $405K debt, asks mem­bers and res­i­dents to chip in $500 each to help

Medicine Hat News - - FRONT PAGE - JUSTIN SEWARD Al­berta News­pa­per Group

A packed club­house of more than 130 peo­ple at an emer­gency meet­ing on Thurs­day night in Red­cliff heard of a se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial bur­den hang­ing over the Riverview Golf Club.

Course mem­bers and town ratepay­ers lis­tened as mem­ber Richard Lant dis­cussed how the club has ac­cu­mu­lated a debt of $405,000, which it has been strug­gling to pay.

“It’s some­thing that has been build­ing for a lot of years and we can’t sat­isfy the short-term debt,” said Lant.

“We haven’t had the money mov­ing for­ward to re­place equip­ment. We’re leas­ing equip­ment and those costs are climb­ing. But we’re in the 21st cen­tury and have to go back and do things in a dif­fer­ent way. We’ve got to get rid of that debt and start on the ground floor.”

The debt has been ris­ing for 10 years, he said, and the course has had to take ac­tion start­ing in 2018.

“It’s been dif­fi­cult,” he said.

The golf club saved some money over the past cou­ple years by cut­ting staff and bud­gets for grounds crew and equip­ment.

Club mem­bers and town tax­pay­ers were asked to help deal with the debt by pay­ing a one-time fee of $500 to help start pay­ing off the debt. Lant said the goal of the $500 pay­ments would be $100,000.

Lant said a busi­ness man­age­ment plan is in the works.

Long­time mem­ber Kelly Booker said he firmly be­lieves the golf course is vi­tal to the com­mu­nity.

“It’s a great re­laxer and it’s one of the few things the Town of Red­cliff ac­tu­ally has where peo­ple can come out and en­joy them­selves. We just need con­tin­ued sup­port to keep it op­er­at­ing.”

Booker con­trib­uted in a big way by do­nat­ing $5,000 out of his own pocket to­ward help­ing oth­ers who could not af­ford the $500 fee.

Town of Red­cliff Mayor Dwight Kil­patrick, who at­tended the meet­ing, said “it’s en­cour­ag­ing ... to see mem­bers will­ing to par­tic­i­pate and will­ing to keep the club go­ing.”

The club is a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion run by a com­mit­tee of golf course mem­bers, and the town’s only in­volve­ment is leas­ing the land.

But the town will only get in­volved when a vi­able busi­ness plan is put to­gether, the mayor said.

“For us to buy in and try to help them out, we need to see that they have a plan,” he said. “Oth­er­wise it’s not a good in­vest­ment.”

Peo­ple were lined up to sign up for the $500 pro­posal at the end of the night’s pro­ceed­ings.

The club had 460 mem­bers as re­cently as six years ago. That num­ber has dwin­dled ev­ery year since to the point where it was 237 by the end of the 2018 sea­son.

AL­BERTA NEWS­PA­PER GROUP PHOTO JUSTIN SEWARD

Richard Lant spoke Thurs­day evening in Red­cliff to a packed club­house about Riverview Golf Club’s fi­nan­cial debt. The course is look­ing for mem­ber and res­i­dent help to deal with a $405,000 hole.

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