When it comes to recreation the old adage ‘the times they are a changing’ seems appropriate.
And that phenomenon seemed to be in evidence at the regular meeting of Yorkton Council Monday.
On one hand Council took a look at how best to operate Deer Park Golf Course moving forward. While Council chose to basically maintain the status quo (see related story this issue), they also heard golf courses are struggling to make a profit.
In the case of Deer Park breaking even when both capital and operational costs are factored in, profits have eluded the course for years.
But Darcy McLeod, Director of Community Development, Parks and Recreation, told Council golf courses across the province have seen user declines.
“The number of rounds played at Saskatchewan courses has seen a decline of 10 – 15 per cent over the last 10 years,” he said.
“It appears that the stress on the economy has had an impact on golf course operation, not only in Saskatchewan but across the country as well. This combined with the wet spring experienced in 2011 across the province has further reduced rounds played and created financial issues for a number of courses.”
While wet weather was pointed to as part of the problem, there are other issues facing golf courses.
Proponents might argue, but costs for golf are becoming huge. When you factor in a club set in the thousand dollar range, is added to annual membership fees at similar rates, plus balls and cart rentals, it is an expensive hobby.
There is also a growing concern among some that golf courses are not particularly ‘green’ in terms of environmental impact with water usage, herbicides and fertilizer. That will turn some away from the game toward recreational options that are perceived as more environmentally sustainable.
Municipalities are also realizing there is a growing interest in lower cost recreational options. We certainly see that locally as the City of Yorkton has moved to create the low maintenance, no cost to use disc golf course, is developing a major new skateboard and bike park, again free to use, and a pond and stream being stocked with trout.
Adam Matichuk, Fisheries Project Coordinator with the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation told the regular meeting of Yorkton Council Monday work on the Logan Green Water Reuse Pond has started, and will continue this year, “it will take some time to establish a fishery. It will be a year, to two years out before people are fishing in the pond.” (See related story this issue).
There are also plans to expand walking and bike paths in the city, again creating more passive options which are lower cost.
While golf courses, swimming pools and hockey arenas will also be an important part of a municipality’s recreational mix, there will also be a far broader range of options available than in the past.