Plans to rezone the clubhouse at the Cedar Hill Golf Course are getting closer to the pin after Saanich council sent the application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) for approval. Following approval from the ALC, the application will go to a public hearing, possibly six months from now. Black Press File

Saanich sends golf course application forward

Council gives tentative support for plans to rezone clubhouse of Cedar Hill Golf Course

Future duffers who damage their back on Cedar Hill Golf Course might not have to travel far to get some physiotherapy.

Saanich Monday rezoned a portion of the course’s club house to permit health facilities and accessory retail sales, pending final approval from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and a later public hearing, possibly six months from now or so.

Council unanimously approved the zoning change following a recommendation from staff. The rezoning allows Saanich’s park and recreation to offer health and wellness program themselves, “or possibly focus strictly on health treatment [and] therapy provided through a contracted health provider.”

The first option would attract about 30 people per day for classes between September to April, the second option about 30 people per day throughout the year.

“Any additional revenue generated [from leasing the space] would support the golf course operations,” said Sharon Hvozdanski, Saanich’s director of planning, in a memo to council. Saanich would charge market rates for the space, and staff have plans for a larger study that would survey future opportunities.

While Saanich’s plan would require renovations of the clubhouse, they would not require layout changes or additions to the existing buildings, including the club house itself, an Arts and Craft heritage building.

Planning for the proposed rezoning started in almost a year ago, after staff had discovered an “anomaly” when it was trying to develop strategies to improve the financial sustainability of the course against the backdrop of unpredictable revenue streams resulting from increasingly unpredictable weather patterns.

If the rezoning goes through, the district would be able to offer the same type of programming and services currently available at its four recreation centres. They include among rental facilities, retail, as well as various types of health services.

The rezoning requires approval from the ALC because the property (which is part of the larger golf course) lies in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Staff estimates the commission will give its approval within four months.

Saanich is moving ahead with this rezoning plan at the same time as the visioning process for Cedar Hill Park continues. The golf course is part of the park, and the public Monday once again heard concerns about council’s apparent eagerness to proceed with the rezoning. Staff pointed out the visioning process deals with the green spaces, while the rezoning process has been under way for some time.

Louis Netter, speaking on behalf of the Friends of Cedar Hill Park, asked council to postpone the decision until Saanich has completed the visioning process, a point that Al Lubkowski echoed.

Coun. Fred Haynes noted that council’s decision to send the proposal to the ALC for approval is permissive not descriptive. Council maintains all options, he said.

Acting mayor Karen Harper, who had participated in the visioning process, said she had initially planned to argue for postponment, but added that staff had addressed her questions.

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