Bonnyville Golf & Country Club get $500K in provincial dollars for irrigation upgrade

The Bonnyville Golf and Country Club is looking to do major upgrades this year on its irrigation system and has asked local governments for a helping hand in getting the project done.

The board at the golf course was successful in receiving a $500,000 CFEP grant (Community Facility Enhancement Program) from the provincial government in January and now they are looking for matching dollars to finish the project.

The total project is expected to total $1.1-$1.3 million in two more phases, which ideally would both be done this year, said club president Maurice Mercier.

The underground irrigation pipes are aging, over 30 years old and are becoming more brittle after years of over-pressurization, which has seen pipe breaks become more common in recent years.

“The irrigation system is a key component to the golf course and it needs replacing. We’ve known this for these last five or six years and we knew we couldn’t do it on our own,” said Mercier.

“It’s causing us a lot of grief and obviously, a golf course cannot afford to be without an irrigation system because those greens do not survive without irrigation.”

In early 2017, the Golf Club approached the Bonnyville town and M.D. councils for support on the project, and each council agreed in part to their ask.

The town provided $30,000 and the M.D. $150,000 on their first phase of the project to upgrade the existing pump house and controls.

At last Tuesday’s town council meeting, the Golf Club’s ask of $100,000 was approved from the ID 349 funds. That $100,000 will then be taken out of the capital budget.

“They sent a letter to the town requesting some funding, so the town agreed to provide $100,000. And then, in addition to that, [to] kind of top-up of work within the parameters of the CFEP and also provide some work in kind, because that also in the way the grant is structured, if you provide work and kind, that value can be added as part of a contribution,” said Mayor Gene Sobolewski on The Morning After.

“There’s a lot of activity and it is a positive for the area having that golf course is a viable recreational outlet, and so what we’re going to do is take a look at it, and we are going to defer some of our capital.”

Mercier said there is two phases of the project remaining, one involves replacing all the main distribution lines, sprinkler heads, and those connecting lines on 12 of the course’s holes. Phase 3 would tackle the remaining six holes.

The request to the M.D. of Bonnyville was first tabled, and then denied at a later meeting, but Mercier is still hopeful for that support.

If not, options like borrowing might be one route the club might look toward, along with fundraisers.

This project will help in avoiding a “catastrophic” failure if the irrigation system isn’t replaced, he said.

“It’s great news for the golf course. It’s great news for the community. We have a beautiful golf course, it’s a gem and it does attract a lot of play from outside our community. It is a tourist draw. And getting this done is is a huge load off our shoulders.”

The Bonnyville Golf and Country Club is a non-profit with a 13 member volunteer board.

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