A new group wants the City of Edmonton to reject any proposal to extend the Royal Mayfair Golf and Country Club’s lease until the public can become more involved.
The private country club has operated on city land since 1922. Its current lease expires in 2051, but the club is in talks with the city to extend the agreement until 2069.
The current lease requires the Mayfair to pay the city $1.5 million in rent plus $250,000 for a renewal fee. Spread over the 50-year-deal, that works out to $35,000 per year.
The Mayfair must also pay property taxes on the land.
Michael Janz is with the group Friends of our Park. He says extending such a deal isn’t good for Edmontonians.
“The idea that only a couple hundred people get private access to river valley land that’s bigger than Hawrelak Park is absurd to us,” Janz said. “We are very concerned that negotiations were taking place behind closed doors with the city.
Raquel Feroe is also with the Friends of our Park group. She’s a conservationist and thinks it’s important to talk about all major river valley amenities.
“I think we need to have a good discussion. A good hearty discussion about best practices and how we can decide for the future what is the best way to use this land.”
Usually, lease renewal discussions are left with city staffers. However, on Sunday, Councillor Aaron Paquette wrote a blog post entitled “Mayfair may not be fair to public.”
In the post, Paquette shared the concerns of Friends of our Park. He said he wants more open discussion to be part of any lease renewal process.
Councillor Jon Dziadyk also thinks discussion helps. When asked if a more formal process was necessary, he said current processes need to be followed. He said he understands why the Royal Mayfair would want a 50-year-commitment.
“When you have a golf course or any facility on public land, you want some certainty that if you’re going to make some improvements to it that you’re able to have those for a fair amount of time,” Dziadyk said.
The Royal Mayfair Golf and Country Club issued a statement on the matter which says its board of governors is “committed to working with the City of Edmonton and public on matters related to our lease agreement.”
The Mayfair statement goes on to say that it respects the river valley and points out, “We have also hosted numerous international events, helping enhance Edmonton’s brand and reputation.”
The Mayfair has hosted the world’s best women golfers as recently as 2013. That’s when the CN Canadian Women’s Open came to Edmonton.
Back in 1980, the club hosted The Canadian Open. The legendary Arnold Palmer won the tournament that year.
Friends of our Park acknowledges such events have value to the city of Edmonton and an extended lease may make good sense.
However, they say they want to be involved in the decision-making process.
The group is planning to host public meetings later this month.