Lake Country resident Richard Issler says if the Aspen Grove Golf Course is turned into playing fields for a new school, there is no reason for he and his two home-based businesses to stay in the Okanagan community.
Issler was one of several golfers who approached Lake Country council last week in a last minute plea to try and save the golf course, although with a decision already in the hands of the Agriculture Land Commission (ALC) the move may have come too late.
The ALC met late last week and were expected to make a decision on whether golf course lands could be removed from the Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR). As of Monday morning, no decision had been made public.
The Central Okanagan School District and Aspen Grove have a tentative deal in place for the district to buy the land, if the ALC removes a portion of the golf course from the reserve.
For Issler and a group of local golfers, the possible end of Aspen Grove would be something that strikes at the core of the Lake Country community.
“I’ve lived all over the world and I’ve always valued a small town community with a small golf course where everyone knows your name,” said Issler. “I just feel completely at home at that place. This is the lifestyle I want and if they take the course away it takes not only the golf away but the community that we have here. If it’s taken away myself and my business will be leaving Lake Country.”
Lake Country golfers presented council with a petition with 327 names on it, hoping it would be enough to sway council to oppose the application to the ALC to remove the golf course from the ALR. Despite earlier concerns by some councilors about the location of the proposed junior-middle school at some point in the future, council didn’t take any action on the item.
For Issler and the other golfers that stood up and put their objections forth, the destruction of Aspen Grove would mean the end of a golf community that includes senior citizens, residents of care homes, and locals who just want a smaller, nine hole course, as opposed to the large, resort style courses that have taken over the Okanagan.
“We only have one golf course and if it’s gone we’ll never get another one,” said Issler. “They may build an extensive one on the hill, but none of us will ever play it,” he said.
Among the other golfers that showed up to plead for the future of Aspen Grove Golf Course was Corinne Hayward, a Lake Country resident who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. An avid golfer many years ago, Hayward wasn’t able to play the game due to the her arthritis until she started playing Aspen Grove, a short, flat, par 3 course favoured by folks who want a quick round, some good exercise and a gathering place.
“This is the very first golf course I have been able to play ,” she said. “It’s an easy one for seniors or people with disabilities to get out and enjoy the beautiful country that we live in, so please don’t let it go.”
At the Aspen Grove golf course itself, employee Cheranda Schulz says the course caters to many seniors and groups in Lake Country and is a busy place during the summer months. She says people haven’t been happy as word has spread that the golf course may be turned into playing fields.
“I have a lot of upset people,” she said. “Everyone is talking about it. People are 50-50. They are sad that it could go but they understand the educational system needs the extra school.”
Aspen Grove is more than just a golf course. It employes close to 30 folks who also work in the restaurant. Schulz says the golf course is the busiest part of the business in the summer months.
Golf course owner Tom Stanbrook was out of the country and unavailable for comment.