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Granite Pointe golf course out of debt following land sale

Injection of cash eliminates long standing debt
Heavy machinery waits at Granite Pointe where development is beginning on housing units. Photo: Bob Keating

by Bob Keating

Granite Pointe golf course has come out of a financial sand trap and for the first time in three decades is looking at nothing but green.

Club president Am Naqvi told three dozen people at the annual general meeting Saturday they are officially debt free after a substantial injection of cash from developers.

“We have no more loans with [Nelson and District Credit Union]. We’re officially out of debt and in surplus,” Naqvi said to a smattering applause from club members at the meeting.

The money comes from the sale of the first parcel of land being developed in an ambitious proposal to build 306 housing units around the 18-hole course.

“They paid us cash of $2 million, and we paid off about $1.4 million owed, so we have about $600,000 sitting in the bank,” Naqvi said.

The news was a relief to club members who just a five years ago were looking at an uncertain future.

Granite Pointe was built in 1919 and is one of the oldest courses in B.C. (Fernie’s golf course built in 1918 is oldest in the Kootenays).

It operated as a nine-hole community run course for almost a century.

In 1992 the course took on over a million dollars in debt to expand to 18 holes but soon golf memberships started to decline, and expenses increased.

The non-profit society that runs Granite Pointe could not pay down the debt and operated in deficit for decades after 1992.

“The cost of keeping up a facility like this, keeping all the fairways, the greens and the carts and what people are willing to pay. It’s very difficult for a community club like this,” said past president Barry Auliffe.

Granite Pointe president Am Naqvi addresses members during the golf course’s annual general meeting Saturday. Photo: Bob Keating

Granite Pointe did get some help from an unusual source four years ago — COVID-19.

The pandemic sent people scrambling for activities that allowed for social distancing and golf was one of them.

“Things turned around with the pandemic,” said Auliffe. “In 2020 for the first time in years we were operating in the black.”

Granite Pointe has been operating with a small surplus every year since 2020 but it was never enough to substantially tackle the debt taken on three decades ago.

Then developers came to them with the plan to build housing over 15 years on 17.5 acres.

The housing will be mixed, covering about 13 per cent of the golf course lands and includes small commercial retail space.

The current course has some housing along its fairways, but this plan will substantially increase that.

The plan calls for a mix of housing types — row housing, duplexes, and pocket neighbourhoods.

“Nelson is a popular town, and homes are hard to find,” says Auliffe. “If you believe there is a housing shortage this is one solution.”

City council and some residents in Rosemont had concerns about increased traffic and loss of forests around the golf course, but at the end of 2019 council gave final approval to the redevelopment plan.

This cash injection is for the beginning of the first housing development.

“The debt has been with us for years and years, so we should be proud,” says Naqvi.

The first hole at Granite Pointe has been torn up and heavy equipment sits on the driving range as builders begin development of the first bank of townhouses.

Treasurer Dominic Porco also told AGM attendees the club has an operational surplus of just over $86,000 to take into the 2024 season.

A public flap over heron nests on the course also appears to have quieted down.

There was logging done in 2021 to clear land for homes and course re-alignment, but a biologist voiced concerns that the clearing of trees was affecting a heron rookery.

In B.C., the interior subspecies of the Great Blue Heron is blue listed and protected.

Naqvi, who disputed the assertion the club ever put herons’ nests at risk, told the AGM there are now as many as eight herons nesting in trees around Granite Pointe.