Association of Citizens for Summerland

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A recent Anonymous comment (Sept. 9) posed the question, "Shouldn't we assume that our local golf courses ARE as important as orchards in that they offer similar [if not greater] numbers of full & part-time employment? In addition, significant tourist dollars are spent throughout Summerland during the short golf season". I am glad to answer and debate, I only wish I knew who I was debating with.
I don't think anyone should assume that golf courses are as important as orchards and farms. Never mind the philosophical difference between the primary importance of food production versus the expensive recreational experience for the relatively wealthy; I also take issue with the assertion that golf courses are more economically significant.
If you check the SCEDT website on economic indicators in Summerland, you will see that the BC Fruit Growers Co-operative has the second largest number of employees in Summerland, at 100. Only the School district employs more. Our two local golf courses employ less than 20 people each, according to SCEDT.
How about the fruit stands, vineyards, wineries, and agri-tourism operations such as Summerland Sweets and Dickinson Family Farm? These land based, water dependant, agricultural operations employ many, many people.
In addition, there are 473 properties in Summerland which claim Farm Status. These farms are all providing, at minimum, a supplementary income for the proprietor, and for many, the primary income. These water dependant farms provide far more seasonal employment opportunities than another golf course would.
I also believe that you are over stating the tourist draw of Golf. The Okanagan is first and foremost renowned for its lakes and weather, FRUIT and WINE. Golfing is, maybe, a blip on the radar screen. In fact, according to Fox Sports News, the sport peaked in the 1990's and has been in decline ever since. In the US, sixty-three golf courses closed last year, double the number in 2001. Food production and agriclulture will never go out of style, unless people stop eating.

So to sum up, No, I don't think Golf Courses are anywhere near as important as agriculture, and a project which uses viable land and puts current farm operations in jeopardy of lacking for water, is not a suitable endeavour for Summerland.


  • It is interesting how you assume that all agriculture has to do with food production. I guess that you could say that vineyards are a type of food, but I would argue that the vineyards only cater to a small portion of our population as well as to the relatively wealthy.

    Perhaps the concern of decreasing food production could be directed to those who are tearing out their orchards to put in vineyards - vineyards that are supplying grapes for wine, not food production.

    As for the golf course development, anyone who assumes that the only jobs that are going to come out of it are 20 or so jobs, is quite naive. What about all the trades that are involved in creating and building the course. What about the tourist dollars that are spent in our community as a result of the additional golf course? Wouldn't the gas stations, hotels, restaurants and many other businesses in the community benefit? What about the golfer who comes with a spouse who wants to take sailing lessons or explore the KVR while their spouse is golfing?

    There is no doubt that the fruit stands, wineries and Summerland Sweets will benefit from extra tourists in town. My guess is, that tourists are a major part of their business. If no tourists came to town to buy their product, sample it and promote it through word of mouth, they would probably not be able to survive.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:11 p.m.  

  • Which "anonymous" are you? Like Amie, I too have reservations about responding to someone who will not give their name. Statistics Canada figures show that at the last census (2001) 460 people were directly employed in "Agriculture and other resource based industries" in Summerland. I can't think of a significant "resource based industry" in town other than agriculture. Note that this number does not include folk who work in the retail end of the winery business or in fruit stands (for example). Such folk would be in the category of Sales and Service. The same applies to other folk who indirectly owe their income to agriculture. The fact is that a huge number of Summerlanders rely upon agriculture for their income, one way or another - and the town in turn relies upon the taxes they pay and the salaries they spend.

    By Blogger tony cooke, at 10:37 p.m.  

  • Why does this have to be an all or nothing senerio. Why can't the golf course development add to the current employment of Summerland?

    I don't think that anyone is trying to say that it is more important than the people who work in agriculture. What it will do is add additional employment opportunities to the area of Summerland.

    The proposed development is not ripping out an orchard and taking away current food production and jobs. I would be upset at that. I'm upset with orchards that have been lost to development or upcoming development, such as the Gartrell property or the property across from the Packing House. That represents a loss of food production. I don't have a problem with land that isn't being used for anything.

    For this proposed development, there is currently NO agricultural industry happening on the land and there are no current jobs that would be lost as a result of it.

    Your argument regarding this development is not valid as such, because there is no industry or jobs currently on this property. Rather, this development will produce jobs and a significant amount of taxes that will go to the municipality.

    I don't think that anyone in Summerland wants to see the end of agriculture, because it is a source of employment and a resource to the community. There is no reason why the two can't compliment each other.

    The fact remains that there is no agriculture on that land right now, so technically, Summerland is not loosing any agricultural food production. Would there be in the future? No one knows..... we don't have crystal balls.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:07 a.m.  

  • Actually, if you check back to where this original debate started, it had to do with water. The original "Anonymous" commenter stated that we should assume that golf courses are as important (in terms of water allotment) as orchards because they offer similar, if not greater, numbers of employment. These are the two issues that I am arguing.

    This golf course and housing development WILL impact existing agriculture operations because it will STRESS our water system. Even if aquifers are tapped, the housing development portion WILL be drawing from our existing potable water catchment infrastructure. This is the infrastructure we work with for agricultural purposes in Summerland. This is the system that nearly ran dry, without an additional 1700 homes.

    Further, I do not see that this development will be offering more important employment opportunities for Summerland, than those in agriculture. This is the statement I was refuting. As Tony stated, Stats Can shows 460 people list their primary employment in Agriculture, and this probably doesn't include those earning a supplementary income from their farm or seasonal workers who come to town to pick, then leave.

    If this development jeopardizes our water system, it jeopardizes ALL agriculture in Summerland. Farmers will not re-invest in their farms if the water supply is not secure.

    As to the statement that this land isn't being used for anything, the ONLY reason for that is that it happens to be above the old flume line, and so, never had water to it in the early days of Summerland. It remains Municipal land and was never parcelled out for farmland because of the lack of water. Here we are now, ready to allot water to it, and my argument is that it could be used for agriculture purposes now.

    The reason the Summerland Hills Development and the agricultural industry in this community CAN'T compliment each other is WE DO NOT HAVE the water catchment infrastructure to provide for both.

    I'll also comment to the previous anonymous who considers this golf course a huge draw and mused "if no tourists came to town...". Um, don't worry, Summerland has been surviving as a tourist town for many, many years, and this development will not be rescuing us from ghost town status. Summerland Sweets has been around for about 30 years. I'm pretty sure the fruit stands have too.

    By Blogger Amie, at 9:57 a.m.  

  • One of the arguments in favour of the proposed golf course/resort has always been, and his certainly been pushed by the Brandenberg/Agur group, the jobs that will ensue to people in Summerland from the construction of this development. Trades people are so busy right now, without any additional construction taking place, that it is difficult to find a plumber, electrician or a carpenter when you want them. I have been doing some major renovations recently and have been waiting for two weeks for an electrician. Some carpet layers working for major carpet sellers are working at top speed on their day job (and frequently doing an inadequate job as a result) so they can make some more money (under the table) later in the day and evening. That is to say, trades people living in Summerland now seem to have all the jobs they can handle. As is usual, those with a bad rep or poor ability are the only ones crying the blues.

    What I would also like to add is that it seems to me that when the economy is good, everybody is trying to get in on the action. I wonder if Agur would have attempted this grand scheme 5 or 10 years ago when the economy wasn’t as healthy. It is quite true that we don’t have crystal balls to foresee the future, but when rapid moves are made in an uncertain economic future, as now with the price of fuel going up and staying up, you can get yourself into a big financial mess. Summerland’s indebtedness is a real factor, and no amount of money from a development tax base is going to clear that up. Instead, as we have been trying to point out to people, your taxes go up with developments other than that which is truly industrial or agricultural.

    Although I have misgivings about the amount of ALR land the municipality wants to take out in the James Lake area, and if it is really required, I would sooner see it go into industrial zoning than to see the ALR land that is being removed in the Dale Meadows area just for a golf course.

    I just find it truly unbelievable that some people in Summerland don’t realize that we are being taken for a ride. They seem to think that Agur and company are building this development out of the goodness of their hearts; that their sole motivation is to provide jobs for Summerlanders; that they want to build up Summerland’s reputation throughout the golfing and resort world so that we can hold our heads high and say, “Hey, we live in Summerland, Agur’s gift to the world.”

    Frank Martens
    September 16th, 12:05 AM

    By Anonymous Frank Martens, at 12:09 a.m.  

  • How many of the individuals complaining about the proposed golf course are golfers? I am a golfer and would love to see another World Class Destination golf course in my home town of Summerland.We already have an excellant golf couse here and providing another alternative for tourists would definitely add to our economy.
    My concerns are simple. Do we have a water shortage problem or a water storge problem? Will the life of our landfill be dramatically shortened by the addition of this development? Are the plans in place to handle the traffic flow this development would generate? These are questions that many people I talk to are asking and no one is telling all.
    Golf is not on the decline. The FoxSports article listed on the initial letter states that there were 420.1 million rounds played in 1996, 518.4 million rounds played in 2000, 498.4 million in 2004. There was 23 million golfers in 1996, 27.8 million in 2001 and 27.3 million in 2004. Understand that the USA is in a slight recession right now and that explains the minor recent declines. This article also states that an inexpensive set of golf clubs and two dozen balls will be hard to find for under $1000.00. Hogwash! Check Canadian Tire or Nevada Bob's for the answer to that.
    I am a member of the Association of Citizens for Summerland and am concerned that some of the published comments by fellow members do not reflect the feelings of the total membership.
    I wish Robin and his partners much success in this venture if the water, landfill and traffic issues can be properly addressed.

    By Blogger Grant McLaughlin, at 5:26 p.m.  

  • Grant, your comments are good and you get to the heart of some of the "lack of due diligence" problems many folk have with the golf course development.
    With respect to published comments by some members not reflecting the viewpoint of all the members, I think that is inevitable with a large Association. We won't all see eye to eye on every single issue - but we do on the main principles. If you disagree with statements made by the Board when acting officially for the members then that is different. We are trying hard to represent everybody.

    By Blogger tony cooke, at 6:46 p.m.  

  • As we debate the merits of a golf resort and it's proposed housing component it may be helpful to remember that we are not alone in wrestling with these decisions.
    There are several interesting articles by Jack Knox in the August 27, 2005 edition of Victoria's Times-Colonist newspaper relating to the development of golf courses and their related housing components on Vancouver Island.
    One article "Golf courses drive home Island boom" mentions among other things that: "The first thing to understand is that today's golf courses are not necessarily built for golfers. They are built to sell real estate, mostly to people who do not golf."
    The other article ("The Island's changing nature") has interesting parallels to the situation here. Namely that "change is inevitable .... better that it's well planned and done in an orderly fashion" and describes the worries of the Concerned Citizen's of Union Bay who want answers to the "availability of water, which they have long been told is in short supply."
    These two articles are a good reminder that Summerland is not alone in either the reasons why developers wish to locate golf courses or the concerns of many of the local inhabitants.

    Knox, Jack. (2005, August 27). Golf courses drive home Island boom. Times-Colonist. p.A2 [retrieved Sept 30, 2005 from Proquest database].

    Knox, Jack. (2005, August 27). The Island's changing nature. Times-Colonist. p.A1
    [retrieved Sept 30, 2005 from Proquest database].

    The entire text of these two articles can be read online by going to the database section of the Okanagan Regional Library’s website. Login using your library card number & PIN to the Proquest database. If you click on “Publications” you can then check under the “T’s” for Times-Colonist. Chose the August 27, 2005 issue. Sort by page number and these two articles are numbers 2 and 3.

    By Blogger David Finnis, at 12:55 p.m.  

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