Government may be close to getting out of golf business: tourism minister

Jim Day
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The Links at Crowbush Cove, seen here in this file photo, is one of Prince Edward Island's premier golf courses owned by the province.

Tourism minister Rob Henderson gives a “50/50 chance’’ that the four provincially-run golf courses in P.E.I. will be in private hands next season.

The Liberal government is looking to lease or sell off the Links at Crowbush Cove, Rodd Brudenell River Resort, Dundarave Golf Course and Mill River Golf Course.

Henderson says the government has whittled seven expressions of interest down to four.

The most recent set of proposals include two companies looking at all four courses, one looking at just Crowbush and another looking at Mill River.

Henderson says the four companies have been asked to come back with “firmer offers’’ in December.

He describes the companies as all having a credible reputation in the golf industry.

Henderson says no deadline has been set to conclude a possible deal.

“This is not a sprint here,’’ he said.

“We’re not going to try to get the first deal that comes.’’

Henderson says if the courses are to be privately-run, the government expects “a reasonable standard’’ to be maintained.

The government, though, clearly wants out of the business with the four courses losing up to $1 million a year.

Dundarave has been the biggest albatross of the four, consistently bleeding money ever since it first opened in July 1999.

The tourism minister says the course lost about $600,000 in 2011 alone while the hit from this past season is still being calculated.

“It has never made money since the day it was open,’’ said Henderson.

He added there is a “remote possibility’’ Dundarave may not open next season if a company does not take it off the government’s hands.

The four provincially owned and operated courses cost about $5 million a year to run and in January of this year, cabinet had to approve a $1.4-million special warrant to make up for a shortfall from the courses.

In a move to help reduce the losses, the province shortened the golf season at Dundarave.

It also closed the Divine Nine at Brudenell River Resort after a government-issued request for proposals on that course turned up no interest.       

Mill River, Crowbush, Dundarave and Brudenell were put on the selling block in 2009 with an estimated total price of around $40 million. But there was no interest and they were taken off the market.




Organizations: Rodd Brudenell River Resort

Geographic location: Mill River, P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Anne Christopher
    November 08, 2012 - 07:25

    Who ever buys those gulf courses you can bet that with out us known they will get the money from our government to buy and then bail out two years later! and we will still own the gulf courses! Just like that hotel in Charlottrtown! We as tax payers don't know until after the fact! It is time for our government to stop playing with tax payers money then telling us to go to work for less them mim.wage!!Anne Christopher

  • Kevin K
    November 07, 2012 - 22:56

    These golf courses do not lose money and this Government is being very deceitful in peddling that line. They are only looking at green fees versus the cost to operate. Thats ridiculous. The spin off from these courses is tremendous. But I guess selling the courses lets them have a few more trips travelling to LA and New York, living the high life with Kelly and Regis! Interesting how maintaining the courses with all the long term spin offs is considered a waste of money by this government yet they spend nearly $800,000 for a one time visit by a morning talk show. Thats show biz.

  • intobed
    November 07, 2012 - 20:37

    The provincial government is saying they are serious about selling the golf courses to a company that will keep the golf courses open for business. But what is to stop the golf courses from being developed into something else (high end exclusive summer community, for example)? What kind of contract are they looking to sign? Quite often companies lie to get what they want, and then they do what they want when they get their way, regardless of agreements or what was said before. Our own government frequently does this too.

  • keep them island owned
    November 07, 2012 - 17:49

    Let's face it, the minute an out of province operator gets them, they'll flip them or sell off the assets and close them. Keep the course lands in public ownership but structure a deal somehow with Rodd Hotels to have them take over operation of the courses... if they're interested. Right now they're a liability and costing us money so even if we just gave Rodd the ability to operate and maintain them, under an operate-to-own agreement or something of the like, we'd be better off.... And Rodd being an Island based chain isn't as likely to cut and run like the ones from other provinces.

  • Former Islander
    November 07, 2012 - 13:16

    Golf courses from the East end, and the West end.. OMG... sell them to Polar... ya'll know how well that worked out eh?

  • ralphi
    November 07, 2012 - 11:31

    hope it is companies well versed in kicking back ----

  • Buddy
    November 07, 2012 - 10:45

    I would love to golf at all of these courses but they are way to expensive for normal Islanders.

  • so
    November 07, 2012 - 10:14

    Has Mr Henderson done the math on this? So 4 golf courses are "losing" 1 million dollars a year combined? Just how much do theses courses take in in outside revenues....hotel rentals..cottages...restaurants...Who many people are employed at these courses? How much do they put back into the local economy.....hope he has done his research and done it well.....just another shot at rural pei.....its ok for a hotel in Charlottetown to use up 16 million of taxpayers dollars in just one year