Todd York (left), owner of Royal York Golf Course in Armstrong, with local developer Patrick Place. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Todd York (left), owner of Royal York Golf Course in Armstrong, with local developer Patrick Place. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Owner shares future vision for Armstrong’s only golf course

Todd York believes he’s found a way to turn Royal York into a win for the city, community and taxpayers

Beside the frost-covered first tee box, Todd York stands next to an easel on which a new vision for the Royal York Golf Course stands.

It’s not the same vision he had 30-plus years ago when he and his father first designed and built the nine-hole course in Armstrong on the family property. And if there was any way around it, he wouldn’t change a thing from that original vision.

But over the past 10 years, the business has proven untenable: golf isn’t as successful an industry as it once was, and York says banks won’t even lend money to potential buyers because golf courses are considered too risky as investments.

It’s forced the Yorks to get creative in order to keep the city’s only golf course up and running.

“We actually haven’t had a year without a loss in the past nine years,” he said.

“We just can’t survive it anymore, and no one will step in and buy it as it is because it’s just the economics of it.”

Fortunately, an offer by local developer Patrick Place presented the family with their first and only recourse that would keep the golf course intact — albeit reduced in size — while offering some intriguing amenities to the community.

That offer is pending a rezoning application and amendment to the City of Armstrong’s Official Community Plan (OCP), which will be discussed at the city’s committee of the whole meeting Thursday, Dec. 10.

“As it is right now, without this application, without this investment, we would be closing our doors. The golf course would be no more,” York said. “So, from my point of view, from my family’s point of view, we’re really thankful that this opportunity has come to us. It’s just such a win-win situation for everybody.”

The proposed development would see just under 19 acres of the 65-acre property rezoned from commercial recreation to housing, paving the way for up to 175 lots of multi-family and combination housing units over a 10-year timeline.

More than half of the property would be retained as recreational, and the nine-hole course would be converted into an executive course, with holes 1, 3 and 4 modified for the 2021 season.

XXXXXXXX

Other amenities have been designed with the aim of diversifying the course’s clientele. The list includes a full-size grass putting course, a two-acre off-leash dog park, walking trails connecting to Okanagan Street, Game Court Park and York Avenue, an adventure playground and a daycare facility at the north boundary of Phillips Avenue.

Land for both the walking trails and adventure park would be dedicated to the city for community use — something York says folks have been clamouring for for years.

“I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked by people, ‘can I walk my dog on the golf course? Can I snowshoe on the golf course? Is there a trail system on the golf course?’ And none of that has existed in the past.”

The proposed development could also be a boon for the city’s capital project coffers. As Place explains, $10,000 from each lot built will go towards off-site sewer and water upgrades and other infrastructure projects, through Armstrong’s voluntary capital contribution policy.

That would amount to a $1.7-million capital budget top-up when accounting for the 175 planned housing lots — lots that would help fulfil the city’s housing needs. A recent housing assessment found Armstrong, the most densely populated city in the Okanagan, also leads the North Okanagan in expected growth over the next five years (2.2 per cent annual population increase compared to the regional average of 0.9 per cent).

The Regional District of North Okanagan’s 2020 report states, “there is an insufficient stock of rental housing, causing 35 per cent of renters to experience housing need, primarily in the form of affordability.”

READ MORE: Vernon golfer collects college victory

The frosted December greens represent another common business conundrum in the golf industry: the course shuts down entirely for the winter. Until this year, even the restaurant closed once the frost hit. It’s another problem the development proposal plans to solve.

“We’re proposing to expand and improve the clubhouse facility so it becomes more conducive to events, to create a year-round opportunity here,” Place said.

And with an executive course that still features some 200-yard holes and the list of other amenities, York feels confident he can meet the needs of the city, the community and the golfers who have faithfully teed off for the past 30 years.

“It not only keeps the golf course but it offers a lot of opportunity for recreation for non-golfers,” he said, adding he also hopes to add a golf pro to run a youth golf academy all year round, bringing young people back into the sport.

The OCP rezoning application will be tabled at the city’s committee of the whole meeting Thursday, Dec. 10.

READ MORE: Armstrong group calls on council to spare local golf course from housing development


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

developmentGolfHousing

Just Posted

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

.
Princeton’s Spotlight wins two provincial awards for excellence

Publisher takes first place for investigative reporting

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

The COVID-19 cases reported over the week of May 30 to June 5. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees second straight week of 17 new COVID-19 cases

Summerland, Keremeos and Princeton all recorded no new cases

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has hired a new FireSmart coordinator. (Black Press file photo)
FireSmart coordinator named for Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen

Kerry Riess will provide assistance to mitigate potential wildfire hazards

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More than 75% of B.C. adults have 1st dose of COVID vaccine

The federal government has confirmed a boost in the Moderna vaccine will be coming later this month

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

The rainbow flag flies beside the Canadian flag outside the University of the Fraser Valley’s Chilliwack campus on June 26, 2020. Monday, June 14, 2021 is Flag Day, and also June is Pride Month. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 13 to 19

Flag Day, Garbage Man Day, International Panic Day all coming up this week

Most Read