It’s a great golfing season, but the River Bend Golf and Recreation Society could still get an extra year to make repayments on a longstanding city loan.
In 2004, River Bend was given a $1.7-million loan from the city for a clubhouse renovation/expansion project.
Council was told this week that only three payments have been made, so far. After more than 15 years, about $125,000 of the loan has been repaid, with $1.544 million still owing.
Some stated reasons for the delay are the fluctuating popularity of golf, the recessed provincial economy, some rainy and cool summers, and past road construction.
Red Deer city council had previously ordered a financial and operational review of the River Bend Golf and Recreation Area due to fluctuating golf course usage and the outstanding loan.
But pandemic closures interrupted the review undertaken by Deloitte LLP on matters of sustainability, service provision and governance.
To allow for the study’s completion, city council opted in June to extend by a year its contract with the operator of the facility.
This week, council was also asked to extend the loan repayment term by a year, until December 2022.
Several councillors asked whether this is necessary, given the great golfing year that the pandemic created by taking so many other activities off the table.
Sarah Tittemore, general manager of community services for the city, confirmed that River Bend is having an “exceptional” golf year, but she said this follows significant challenges caused for the course by the COVID-19 lockdown last spring.
It’s yet to be known whether higher golf revenues collected later in the summer will fully mitigate a slow start to the season, she said.
Council heard that the loan repayment extension goes along with the one-year extension given for the financial and operational review of River Bend.
All but Coun. Buck Buchanan eventually gave first reading to the extension to the loan repayment terms. Final approval will be discussed by council on Nov. 9.
Public comments will be accepted by the city until that date.