UPDATE 9 a.m.
Denciti Development Corp. CEO Garry Fawley has clarified statements he made about the future of Kelowna Springs Golf Course at the conclusion of Tuesday night's public hearing.
Fawley says a decision as to whether the golf course will operate in 2024 has not yet been finalized.
"We cannot commit to next year," he said.
Fawley says the next step for the investment group that purchased the course will be to determine the future of the golf course beyond this season.
ORIGINAL 4 a.m.
Kelowna Springs will operate as a golf course through the 2024 season.
After that, all bets are off.
Denciti Development Corp. CEO Garry Fawley made that declaration during a public hearing to determine the future land use of the 106 acre golf course just east of Reid's Corner.
During the lead up to council's adoption of the 2040 Official Community Plan, the previous owners of the golf course approached the city to explore changing the future land use designation from private recreational to industrial.
Council approved the OCP with the change, prompting Denciti to put an offer on the property and sparking outrage within the golfing and agricultural community.
That outrage led to Tuesday's packed public hearing and, according to city clerk Stephen Fleming, more correspondence (over 400 pages) for one issue than he has seen in his 20 years with the city.
In all, 36 people spoke during the four-and-a-half hour public hearing, 27 in favour of returning the future land use to private recreational and nine against.
Most of those were supportive of a preliminary idea floated by Fawley to create a "split-zone," in which the back nine of the golf course would be retained with the other half of the property for industrial use.
To do that, Fawley says there would have to be a seamless transition from an 18 hole course to a nine hole course, a decision which would have to be made within the next 12 to 14 months.
If the course ceases operations after next season for even a year, moving forward with that concept would not be possible, he said.
Many in opposition pointed to the fact the course is on a flood plain and were concerned any flooding which has affected the course in past year would affect other commercial and residential properties downstream along Mill Creek.
Others were concerned about losing an affordable and walkable golf course and the loss of green space in an ecologically sensitive area.
Still other suggested the city find upwards of $30 million or more to purchase the property and turn it into a municipal golf course.
Coun. Luke Stack, who led the charge to change the OCP, implored his counterparts around the council table to join him in reverting the property to private recreational.
"Will there be discussions down the road? I am certain there will, but the decision tonight should be to return this back to a future long-term view of private recreational, then we can look at proposals for the property," said Stack.
"Do it for the citizens who have asked you to do it, do it for the trees, maybe you want to do it to preserve green space, maybe you want to do it to protect the neighbouring wetland and the animal and bird species that enjoy this area, maybe you want to do it to protect the surrounding farmlands, perhaps you want to do it to protect the flood plain, maybe you want to even do it to help offset climate change.
"I don't know, but do it mostly for our city's future."
Council voted 8-1 in favour of the OCP change with only Coun. Loyal Wooldridge voting against. He argued against the process, saying the new owners of the property should have been given more time to be able to bring a more clear vision for the property.
While the future land use has been changed, it was noted that doesn't mean the golf course has been saved forever, or that industrial development will never take place on part, or all of the property.
"It does not mean by any means that this is the way that it is going to stay for the rest of the future. We don't know what's going to happen," said Mayor Tom Dyas.
"Somebody else owns this land and it will be up to them to make decisions."