Eaglecrest Golf Club’s owners will go ahead with a plan to reduce the course layout from 18 holes to nine, effective April 1.
“The owners have made it clear that they want to run a nine-hole golf course at least for this year,” said Daniel Sailland, the Town of Qualicum Beach’s chief administrative officer, after the message was relayed to town council. “So, this becomes a point council is going to have to discuss around the lease.”
The town is still trying to negotiate a five-year lease with the owners for the use of the town-owned seventh fairway and 18th tee box and to continue to operate an 18-hole golf course.
“Eaglecrest has been a large part of our community and I prefer they go 18-holes long term,” said Mayor Brian Wiese. “I would do everything to make that happens but there’s some limitations.”
The owners of Eaglecrest can decide what type of course layout they want and Sailland said if they decide to stick with a nine-hole course, it would potentially produce a problem with a lease that requires operation of an 18-hole golf course.
“The good news is dialogue is taking place,” said Sailland, who added there is a strong desire from the golfing community at Eaglecrest for the club to maintain its 18-hole status. “Council has been very clear that their preference is 18. The town is in a hard position to be in because ‘can we really force a business to do something they don’t want to do?’ That’s the ultimate question.”
Some people in the community do feel council can tell the owners what to do but that would be counterproductive, said Sailland.
“If you put it into context, if we try to force a business to do something they don’t want to do, the alternative is, that they can just shut the doors as well,” said Sailland. “It’s a messy conversation. The lease is just for the 17th hole and the tee box on the 18th. If we do the math and we can see, technically they could run a nine-hole golf course without a lease.”
The Eaglecrest owners have cited economic factors as the main reason for wanting to turn the course into a nine-hole layout. They’ve informed club members since taking over the club three years ago that they have not turned a profit despite making large amount of investments. They also were not happy with the new lease agreement from the town.
Some of members at Eaglecrest expressed disappointment that owners had turned down their offer to assist them with their negotiations with the town and also with their willingness to pay a little bit more for the membership to keep the 18-hole course.
“Most of us have given up and gone to other courses before they get over their membership limits,” said John D’Aigle. “The nine-hole course plan is going ahead. I have resigned as (men’s club) president and have joined Morningstar.”
Sailland indicated if Eaglecrest Club continues with its business plan, they will still be required to maintain the unused portion of the course. There is also a covenant that keeps them from developing the property.
Coun. Teunis Westbroek said he wants to support Eaglecrest and will continue to golf there.
“This is an important golf course,” said Westbroek. “This is part our our history. And they’re celebrating its 50th anniversary since the opening.”
Westbroek made a notice of motion at the council’s regular meeting Feb. 24 that town staff work with the owners and managers to come up with a 50th anniversary celebration plan when it’s safe to do so.