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Proposed redevelopment of Armstrong’s Royal York Golf Club proves controversial

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WATCH: A plan to turn part of Armstrong’s Royal York Golf Club into a subdivision is generating a lot of controversy in the North Okanagan city. – Nov 30, 2020

A plan to turn part of Armstrong’s Royal York Golf Club into a subdivision is generating a lot of controversy in the North Okanagan city.

Proponents say the proposed redevelopment of part of the property will keep the golf course viable while adding much-needed housing.

Opponents, however, argue the project will take away green space in an area that’s already densely populated enough.

The proposal is for the golf course to be sold to investors who plan to turn nearly 19 acres of the 65-acre site into a subdivision with 110 single-family lots and a multi-family townhouse or rowhouse development with 65 units.

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A smaller executive golf course would still be retained, just over half the size of the existing course.

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The plan also calls for new amenities like a walking trail, dog park and playground to be installed.

Todd York, whose family has owned the golf course for three decades, said the golf business has become challenging in the last decade and the Royal York Golf Club “can’t survive any longer” in its current form.

York sees the sale of the property to investors who want to retain much of the land for recreation as a win-win.

“This plan allows stability for the golf course and adds so many other amenities to it. The trail system is going to be highly used,” York said.

“There are so many features being added for the non-golfer while still having a golf course, as opposed to closing the doors and letting it just turn into weeds.”

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However, opponents of the plan feel the smaller course won’t be viable as it will no longer attract serious golfers.

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They are lobbying for the city to buy the golf course and turn it over to a non-profit to run.

“Once this land is gone it can never be replaced. It is an irreversible decision to destroy parkland for the sake of more homes in an overpopulated, high-density community of Armstrong,” Lindsay Thachuk, president of the Armstrong Green Space Society said.

Those involved in the development proposal point out the land is not currently a park and say more housing is needed in the area.

Patrick Place, president of Royal York Developments Unlimited and local representative of the purchase group, said the development, which includes plans for a dog park and trail, will mean more access to green space for non-golfers.

“Although we are going to alter the golf course the user groups that will take advantage of that will far exceed the 100 and some odd members that are still at the golf course,” Place said.

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Critics are also concerned the redevelopment will overtax the city’s infrastructure including its stormwater drainage.

“Two years ago, the lower part of the city flooded. If all this absorbent green space turns into paved roofs and rooftops, all that water is deposited above the lower part of the city so it just will increase the flood risk down below,” Thachuk said.

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However, proponents of the project say they’ve taken drainage into consideration and plan to install retention ponds to capture groundwater from the subdivision.

The proposal also calls for the developers to give $1.75 million to the city for a variety of infrastructure improvements.

“That’s not just to accommodate the development. That is to make the upgrades to systems that will service the entire area,” York said.

Whether the development goes ahead will ultimately be up to the Armstrong city council.

Council is expected to consider a proposed rezoning and a change to the official community plan for the project over the coming months.

A map of the proposed subdivision at Royal York Golf Club. Courtesy: Patrick Place