A new group of owners has purchased the former Royal Oak Golf Course site for $3.5 million but the neighbours who live around the course aren’t sold on what that likely means.
The consortium of owners, some local and one from Saskatchewan, retained local planner Deane Strongitharm of CitySpaces to lead the first steps in turning the overgrown 27-acre golf course into something else.
Before they sold the course former owners, the Cordero family, proposed a mixed use of single-family detached homes. It’s too early to tell exactly what the plans are now, Strongitharm said.
Most of the property is in the agricultural land reserve, though it’s hard to imagine the site will be farmed. Golf courses are also a dying business.
Strongitharm has been involved in many local developments but said he was retained on a preliminary basis for his experience in potentially rezoning the land.
However, he did say the soils are currently being testing and the results will be analyzed by the ALR.
“Before even thinking about future uses there has to be a determination as to the agricultural capability,” Strongitharm said. “We understand that a lot of soil was brought in when the golf course was created and until [the soil is analyzed] there’s no plans afoot of any future use of the land.”
A representative of the new owners did hold a brief meeting with some members from the adjacent housing units in September. Among those who attended was Bob Law, president of the Royal Links North strata council, and member of a group committee that represents all four neighbouring strata councils.
Law said his group asked what the plan was but was only told it will possibly require rezoning to get the land out of the ALR.
In the meantime, the state of the golf course has neighbours concerned for other reasons.
“It’s overgrowing, we actually put pressure on Saanich in the spring and summer, who managed to get the former owners to run a rough mower over the thing [before selling],” Law said. “We were worried [during the drought] about it being a fire hazard.”
Law also said locals are treating the former golf course grounds as an extension of Beaver Lake Park.
“There are trails through it, I’ve seen runners go through and people on horseback.”
Lifelong Royal Oak resident Donna Cino is among those who is getting used to the former links as a green space. Cino believes “the 27-acre green space should be left undeveloped, cherished for the use of this and future generations to enjoy.”
“Do we want the Royal Oak area to become like Stu Young’s Langford?,” Cino said.