The developer running the McArthur Island Golf Course has given up his lease on the city-owned property.
Manager of parks and civic facilities Jeff Putnam said the city has reached an agreement with Bill Bilton to return the property to the city's control, ending 25 years of leasing.
"I have fully enjoyed my 25 years of developing and operating the McArthur Island Golf Course; however, with the recent floods and the growing success of tournaments on the island, I made the tough decision not to renew my lease. I fully support the city's vision to bring new recreational opportunities to the island," Bilton said in a city press release.
The nine-hole course was the subject of extensive flooding this past spring, described by Bilton as the worst he has ever seen on the property.
"It knocked the hell out of the course," he told KTW in September.
City CAO David Trawin said there were 23 years left in Bilton's lease, which restricted him to providing golf and mini-golf on the site. But, Trawin noted, the flooding would have required costly repairs and the two sides negotiated a return of the parkland to public use.
In exchange for breaking the lease early, the City of Kamloops will waive Bilton's $11,500 rental payment for the year and cover the $19,128 in property taxes for the site.
Putnam said the city hopes to stage a series of open houses over the winter to get public opinion on what to do with the six-hectare (14-acre) property.
"It's an absolutely gorgeous property," Putnam said. "Lots of mature trees, lots of options for passive and active use."
The golf course will remain closed to the public until a new plan for use is developed. Putnam said the city's graffiti task force will move into the existing clubhouse building and other members of the city's parks or sustainability staff may also join them to create a storefront space where they can interact with the public.
The clubhouse is a smaller structure, built after the city purchased the club's larger building in 2007. That property, which hosts the headquarters of Kamloops Youth Soccer, is unaffected.
Coun. Arjun Singh, who was serving as mayor when councillors agreed to a deal to take back the property, said the exchange doesn't necessarily spell the end of golf on the island.
"I think what we've got to do is go out to the public . . ." he said. "Certainly, there are things that are easier to do and harder to do."
However, Singh noted that if Bilton, who also owns The Dunes at Kamloops Golf Course in Westsyde, could not make a course work on McArthur Island, it could be a challenge for local government.