Cheam Golf Centre was locked up tight by bailiffs last week after the operator defaulted on more than $40,000 in lease payments and back taxes.
The agreement between Bogey Enterprises and City of Chilliwack was terminated after lease conditions were breached, and a new operator could be sought after the dust settles.
In the meantime, Golf Centre members, who just paid their annual fees, were fuming to find the golf course suddenly shut down when they showed up to play a round of golf last week.
“We want to know what’s going to happen now. We’re concerned about our memberships,” said member Bill McIntosh.
McIntosh is a Chilliwack resident, who has been a member at Cheam for about five years. When he pre-paid his $554 membership for 2012 a few weeks ago, there was already some talk about how the operator knew he was in trouble financially.
“Now we’re hoping to either get our money back, or get a membership for the next season,” he said.
A security guard now patrols the locked site on behalf of the bailiffs to keep it secure.
“It’s never fun to have to take action like this,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz, referring to the lease termination and property repossession. “But we have to protect our taxpayers’ financial interests.”
The golf course on Luckakuck Way is located on city property, and the land was leased to the operator, Bogey Enterprises, for recreational purposes specifically. The golf course itself is not technically owned by the City of Chilliwack, just the land under it.
Almost $40,000 in lease payments and taxes were owed to the City of Chilliwack by the end of October, but now it’s already substantially more than that since the tally is mounting daily with accrued interest and legal fees, said city staff.
Bogie Enterprises was in its 15th year of a 35-year lease agreement with the City of Chilliwack.
City officials said they have received no payment to date on what’s owed since March 11. They waited to see if a penalty deadline for taxes would be met in August, but a breach of lease notice had to be issued on Oct. 26, hand-delivered to a company principal, according to city staff.
Disgruntled golf course members can contact the city to leave their names and contact information before the Dec. 13 property claims deadline.
The city has no plans to take over the golf course, and claims will have to settled with the operator.
Meanwhile city officials will be seeking to collect on the operator’s debts, and the property and contents on-site will be under the control of the bailiffs, Consolidated Civil Enforcement, until at least Dec. 13.
The mayor said she couldn’t recall a similar situation faced by the city, and it wasn’t clear if the operator’s reason for not paying his bills was tough economic times, or something else.
“But there was no way to prevent this, as the guy clearly defaulted,” she said. “But there are still some unanswered questions for those who have golf memberships, and hopefully we’ll be able to reveal some future plans to the public shortly.”