The Chinook golf in Swift Current had a record-breaking season in 2021, but golfers will be paying more to use the course next year.
Council members approved the new golf course rates for this 18-hole municipal golf course during a regular council meeting, Nov. 29.
City General Manager of Community Services Jim Jones told the meeting the increases in different categories will equate to an average five per cent increase.
“By reasonable increases to golf in the community, the Chinook golf course will continue to be a destination for recreation for all ages, from the beginner to the expert, providing fun, affordable, outdoor pursuits by all our citizens,” he said.
Course rates for unrestricted use of the course during weekdays and over weekends by adults will increase from $1,195 to $1,250. The adult rates for restricted use of the course on weekdays only will increase from $970 to $995.
The course rate for couples will increase from $1,950 to $2,050 and the family rate will increase from $1,995 to $2,095.
Rates will increase in various other player categories, but some rates for junior players will remain the same. Various rates to play nine or 18 holes over a weekend will remain unchanged. Cart rates will also increase, but driving range, bucket and storage locker rates will remain the same.
Jones noted the City’s goal is to provide affordable recreation opportunities to residents. The review of rates and processes at the Chinook golf course takes place annually.
“The Chinook golf course continues to be a fantastic starter course and destination for members of all ages,” he said. “Golf has seen a resurgence in play that is encouraging and reflective of its ability to meet and exceed COVID-19 pandemic standards. It takes place outside, it is easy to social distance, and carts and equipment can be easily disinfected after each use.”
He spoke about the successful 2021 season, which was the best year ever for the Chinook golf course. Total revenue was $947,564 from 27,618 recorded rounds of play.
The season started on April 8, when nine holes were opened to the public. All 18 holes were opened on April 16. The final day of play was Oct. 24.
Membership numbers increased from 303 in 2020 to 385 in 2021. A significant portion of this increase was due to younger golfers, with 47 of the 82 additional members in 2021 in the young adult, student, and junior categories.
The number of rounds played in 2021 increased by 27 per cent over the average of the previous nine years. Revenue was up 27 per cent over the previous year and also 27 per cent higher than the average of the previous six years. June and July were the busiest months of the 2021 season, with 5,481 rounds in June and 5,503 rounds in July.
Mayor Al Bridal and City Chief Administrative Officer Tim Marcus provided additional details about the cost recovery level of the Chinook golf course during a media briefing after the council meeting.
Bridal noted that the Chinook golf course has a higher cost recovery level than other City recreation facilities.
“It’s not 100 per cent self funded, but of any of our recreational facilities it pays more towards the bills than any other facility,” he said. “We did have a report last week and the question was asked how much did it cost to run this year, because we brought in some $900,000 and that number hasn’t come back to us, but I would anticipate this year that it’s not going to cost the taxpayer very much to run Chinook.”
Marcus added that the Chinook golf course has always been close to break-even on operating expenses each year.
“It’s even made a little surplus or it’s just short,” he said. “It’s a weather-related enterprise. So it just depends year to year on the weather. This year we’re expecting a surplus, simply because we had such a tremendous response with the good weather.”
Significant price increase for water treatment chemicals:
A report presented during the regular council meeting on Nov. 29 indicated the City will be paying significantly more for various water treatment chemicals in 2022.
Council members approved the purchase of the chemicals, but expressed concern about the impact such cost increases can have on the City budget.
“I think that’s almost 20 per cent overall, which is crazy in one year, but there’s not really a lot we can do with it, because we need all those chemicals to have safe water,” Councillor Pat Friesen said.
Councillor Ryan Plewis referred to the broader impact that such increases in raw materials can have on the City budget.
“This sort of makes me a little bit nervous for our budgeting process looking down the years,” he said. “All of the things the City spends money on in the course of a year, there’s lots of raw materials in those things, and lots of high tech things in those reports as well.”
City General Manager of Infrastructure and Operations Mitch Minken referred so some of the reasons for the higher prices of water treatment chemicals.
The forecast of an expected shortage of caustic soda and chlorine resulted in higher prices. There is also a higher demand for chlorine due to an increase in demand for sanitation and disinfection products during the COVID-19 pandemic and there is a global polyvinyl chloride shortage.
“The fuel surcharge forecast is estimated at an eight per cent increase in 2022, which will impact transportation costs,” he said. “Supplies shipped from China are expected to have drastic increases to shipping costs.”
The price of caustic soda is expected to increase by 23.14 per cent from 2021 to 2022. Other significant expected price increases are for potassium permanganate (26.6 per cent), activated carbon (30.63 per cent), and chlorine liquefied gas (55.56 per cent).
Overall, the City’s expenditure on water treatment chemicals is expected to increase by 19.73 per cent from $475,493 in 2021 to $569,293 in 2022.
Minken indicated the City is always considering potential alternatives, both with regard to the use of chemicals and available technology, as a means to keep spending cost effective.
“We’re always looking at what options are there,” he said. “We’ve made one change to process over the last few years that removed the use of sulphuric acid. … We replaced that with a CO2 gas system, which resulted in a number of savings of that chemical, but also resulted in a vast improvement in the safety for our staff, because sulphuric acid is a dangerous chemical to work with, as are some of these. We’re constantly monitoring what’s going on out there in the market and the technologies to ensure if there’s some opportunities, we’ll look at them.”