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Rifts emerge between Town of Crossfield and local golf course

The Town of Crossfield has pulled the plug on Collicutt Siding Golf Club’s (CSGC) plans to build three new holes for its junior academy – bringing to light a fractured relationship that has developed between the two parties in the past several months
Halted holes
The Town of Crossfield issued a ‘stop work order’ to Collicutt Siding Golf Club Sept. 17, putting a halt to the club’s landscaping project to create three additional holes for its junior academy.

The Town of Crossfield has pulled the plug on Collicutt Siding Golf Club’s (CSGC) plans to build three new holes for its junior academy – bringing to light a fractured relationship that has developed between the two parties in the past several months. On Sept. 17, the Town issued a “stop work order,” forcing CSGC to discontinue its landscaping project on the east side of the golf course. The order stated the golf club did not seek proper approval before undertaking the landscaping and was, therefore, not compliant with its rental agreement with the Town. The Collicutt Siding golf course opened in 1995 on land owned by the Town of Crossfield, which acts as the CSGC’s landlord. Lyndon King, CSGC general manager and the club’s golf professional, said the additional holes would increase the playing areas available to young golfers. CSGC’s Dream Junior Golf Academy boasts nearly 1,000 members and is the biggest junior golf academy in Canada, he said, catering to boys and girls aged four to 14. “We build tee-off boxes and greens all the time, and have done so for years. And that’s all we were doing – building three tee-off boxes and greens,” King said. “We go to do this for the kids, and [the Town] stops it. Why? All we’re doing is minor landscaping.” According to the Town’s Chief Administrative Officer, Ken Bosman, because the municipality owns the land, it is required to ensure activity there is “in accordance with the various regulations” of higher levels of government. “If we don’t, obviously, we incur any fiscal or regulatory liability,” he said. Bosman claimed CSGC’s submission to build its new holes did not meet the province’s necessary regulations. He added the holes would be within the Nose Creek watershed, where prospective development must comply with provincial legislation. “The submission the golf course provided to us did not – in any way, shape, matter or form – meet the requirements that we needed it to meet,” he said. “Because they did not meet the requirements, and began work without the permission of the Town, we asked them to stop – that’s pretty much all there is to it.” According to King, the stop work order is only the most recent in a series of conflicts between CSGC and the Town. He said the relationship began to deteriorate last summer, when the golf course was not allowed to use the municipality’s treated wastewater for irrigation – something he said was done in previous years. Considering the high temperatures experienced during the summer, King said, the lack of water negatively affected the golf course. “Our pond was empty – we still haven’t watered our fairway since the middle of June,” he said. “We’re conserving every bit of water we have to keep the greens alive.” According to Bosman, the Town’s reasoning for not providing effluent to the golf course was – as with the stop work order for the three holes – due to environmental regulations. He said certain water quality standards need to be met before the Town can put treated wastewater “on a location where there could potentially be human exposure,” and those standards were not met. “Obviously, a golf course qualifies as being a potential human exposure,” he said. “We explained to the golf course repeatedly that, due to environmental regulations as defined in the Code of Practice, we simply were not legally able to give them water.” Crossfield Mayor Jo Tennant echoed Bosman’s sentiments. “The environmental regulations have changed over time, so putting something new and current in place, given the timeframe in-between when we were asked and when we had our license to discharge into Nose Creek…there just wasn’t enough time,” she said. “At best, it would be a temporary fix, and I think the Town is looking at something more permanent than spending tax dollars on a temporary measure.” Yet another issue is CSGC’s lease agreement with the Town, which expired in 2016 and hasn’t been renewed since. According to the expired lease, CSGC pays the municipality one per cent of its gross revenues, as rent. Bosman said the Town sent the golf course a registered letter about the lease expiry in 2017, but never heard back. “We sent their board of directors at least one registered letter, maybe more, saying the lease was expired and we needed to talk about this,” he said. King said CSGC’s board of directors is hoping to meet with Town council members to discuss the expired lease and other issues between the two parties. “We have not, to date, been able to meet with council,” he said. “That’s kind of been our goal.” However, King acknowledged the ongoing tension between the club and the municipality has “become personal” for him and Bosman. “We need to be good partners here, but we’re not,” he said. “I’m hoping we can turn it around.” Tennant said she hopes the relationship can improve, and is optimistic it will. “Both of us have the same goal in mind – that the golf course is the best golf course it can be and that is can be as sustainable as possible,” she said. “We continue to work towards that.”

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