Todd York (left), owner of Royal York Golf Course in Armstrong, with local developer Patrick Place. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Todd York (left), owner of Royal York Golf Course in Armstrong, with local developer Patrick Place. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Owner shares future vision for Armstrong’s only golf course

Todd York believes he’s found a way to turn Royal York into a win for the city, community and taxpayers

Beside the frost-covered first tee box, Todd York stands next to an easel on which a new vision for the Royal York Golf Course stands.

It’s not the same vision he had 30-plus years ago when he and his father first designed and built the nine-hole course in Armstrong on the family property. And if there was any way around it, he wouldn’t change a thing from that original vision.

But over the past 10 years, the business has proven untenable: golf isn’t as successful an industry as it once was, and York says banks won’t even lend money to potential buyers because golf courses are considered too risky as investments.

It’s forced the Yorks to get creative in order to keep the city’s only golf course up and running.

“We actually haven’t had a year without a loss in the past nine years,” he said.

“We just can’t survive it anymore, and no one will step in and buy it as it is because it’s just the economics of it.”

Fortunately, an offer by local developer Patrick Place presented the family with their first and only recourse that would keep the golf course intact — albeit reduced in size — while offering some intriguing amenities to the community.

That offer is pending a rezoning application and amendment to the City of Armstrong’s Official Community Plan (OCP), which will be discussed at the city’s committee of the whole meeting Thursday, Dec. 10.

“As it is right now, without this application, without this investment, we would be closing our doors. The golf course would be no more,” York said. “So, from my point of view, from my family’s point of view, we’re really thankful that this opportunity has come to us. It’s just such a win-win situation for everybody.”

The proposed development would see just under 19 acres of the 65-acre property rezoned from commercial recreation to housing, paving the way for up to 175 lots of multi-family and combination housing units over a 10-year timeline.

More than half of the property would be retained as recreational, and the nine-hole course would be converted into an executive course, with holes 1, 3 and 4 modified for the 2021 season.

XXXXXXXX

Other amenities have been designed with the aim of diversifying the course’s clientele. The list includes a full-size grass putting course, a two-acre off-leash dog park, walking trails connecting to Okanagan Street, Game Court Park and York Avenue, an adventure playground and a daycare facility at the north boundary of Phillips Avenue.

Land for both the walking trails and adventure park would be dedicated to the city for community use — something York says folks have been clamouring for for years.

“I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked by people, ‘can I walk my dog on the golf course? Can I snowshoe on the golf course? Is there a trail system on the golf course?’ And none of that has existed in the past.”

The proposed development could also be a boon for the city’s capital project coffers. As Place explains, $10,000 from each lot built will go towards off-site sewer and water upgrades and other infrastructure projects, through Armstrong’s voluntary capital contribution policy.

That would amount to a $1.7-million capital budget top-up when accounting for the 175 planned housing lots — lots that would help fulfil the city’s housing needs. A recent housing assessment found Armstrong, the most densely populated city in the Okanagan, also leads the North Okanagan in expected growth over the next five years (2.2 per cent annual population increase compared to the regional average of 0.9 per cent).

The Regional District of North Okanagan’s 2020 report states, “there is an insufficient stock of rental housing, causing 35 per cent of renters to experience housing need, primarily in the form of affordability.”

READ MORE: Vernon golfer collects college victory

The frosted December greens represent another common business conundrum in the golf industry: the course shuts down entirely for the winter. Until this year, even the restaurant closed once the frost hit. It’s another problem the development proposal plans to solve.

“We’re proposing to expand and improve the clubhouse facility so it becomes more conducive to events, to create a year-round opportunity here,” Place said.

And with an executive course that still features some 200-yard holes and the list of other amenities, York feels confident he can meet the needs of the city, the community and the golfers who have faithfully teed off for the past 30 years.

“It not only keeps the golf course but it offers a lot of opportunity for recreation for non-golfers,” he said, adding he also hopes to add a golf pro to run a youth golf academy all year round, bringing young people back into the sport.

The OCP rezoning application will be tabled at the city’s committee of the whole meeting Thursday, Dec. 10.

READ MORE: Armstrong group calls on council to spare local golf course from housing development


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

developmentGolfHousing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A shop up on Grand Oro Road near Twin Lakes burned down on Monday. (Facebook)
Fire rips through shop in small South Okanagan town

The building was destroyed despite community efforts to fight the fire

(Natalia Cuevas-Huaico - Kelowna Capital News)
Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

The currently vacant lot on Main Street where a Dairy Queen, retail and residential spaces have been approved to go into. (Town of Oliver)
Main Street in Oliver is getting a Dairy Queen and residential units

Oliver council gave its approval to fill the empty lot with DQ and residential units

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

FILE – People hold signs during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to request federal exemption for simple drug possession

Announcement comes on 5-year anniversary of B.C.’s first public health emergency

(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FIle)
Rare blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca vaccines: Health Canada

One case of the adverse effect has been reported in Canada

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP are looking for the rightful owners of two standup paddleboards seized in an investigation March 19, 2021. (RCMP)
Is this your SUP?: Vernon police

Two standup paddleboards seized by police to be returned

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Observers ‘gutted’ as pair filmed removing red dresses hung along B.C. highway

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Indigenous Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

A grey whale off the coast of Vancouver Island is being monitored by Canadian and U.S. researchers, as it has developed lesions after being tagged last year. To try and prevent systemic infection from developing, the team administered antibiotics to the whale on March 31 and April 1. (Photo from the NOAA Fisheries website)
Grey whale off Vancouver Island develops lesions after being tagged, researchers monitor its condition

Canadian and U.S. whale experts administered antibiotics to the animal on March 31, April 1

Most Read