News / Calgary

Councillor says tax break will save golf courses from development

Provincial tax regime is unfair for land-dependent businesses, according to Coun. Ward Sutherland

Harvest Hills Golf Course was just one of several courses within Calgary that sold out to a developer after they began losing money.

Metro File

Harvest Hills Golf Course was just one of several courses within Calgary that sold out to a developer after they began losing money.

A Calgary city councillor is hoping the province can find a way to give golf courses a tax break in the hope of preventing developers from buying up the lands.

Coun. Ward Sutherland said unless the province changes the way it taxes golf courses, Calgary’s golf courses will continue to close and sell their properties.

He said golf courses get taxed like any business, but unlike most other businesses they have acres of prime land within the city.

“All the greenspace is taxed at the value of the land as if you’re going to develop it and sell it,” said Sutherland. “Because the price of land has more than quadrupled, the taxes for the golf courses have increased so much it’s 20 per cent of their expense.”

Sutherland said the average business can expect to budget about three or four per cent of their expenses towards property tax.

He said it’s no surprise that several private golf courses, including Highland Park and Harvest Hills, have done the financially logical thing and sold out to developers when they started losing money.

According to Sutherland, private golf courses within the city are also having trouble competing with courses just outside city limits.

He said people are leaving the city and spending their money elsewhere, which is bad for the local economy,

Sutherland’s notice of motion to council asks the city to write a letter to the province asking it to reconsider how golf courses are taxed province-wide. It’s not something he expects to change under a new city charter.

“As it stands right now we don’t have and we’re not going to have the ability to change the assessment system,” said Sutherland. “That will always be provincial.”

He noted that golf course operators aren’t opposed to paying taxes. They just want rules that will allow them to remain in business.

Rick Lundy, president of the Northern Hills Community Association, said the motion is too little too late for Harvest Hills golf course, but he supports the idea.

“If we can make golf courses profitable, there’s less of a chance of developers swooping in and stealing golf courses,” he said.

More on Metronews.ca