Falls given more time to sort finances

The Falls golf resort in Chilliwack got three more months of bankruptcy protection this week and additional funding to continue its operations, Rick Wellsby, resort president, said after a Tuesday court hearing.

“That’s good news for us,” he said. “It gives us time to continue along with our restructuring program.”

How the extension to Aug. 28 sits with wedding planners and golfers remains to be seen, however.

One irate father who pre-paid $7,500 for his son’s August wedding at The Falls was furious when he was asked for an additional $3,000 with no guarantee the resort would still be operating in August.

Another who booked the resort for an August wedding said he was asked to pay $3,600 more or the event would be cancelled.

Golfers who paid for memberships were also told they’d have to pay extra for each round of golf played at the resort.

But the additional payments were ordered by a court-appointed monitor to ensure the resort lost no more money after Wellsby – the president of Blackburn Developments Ltd. – filed for bankruptcy protection in February after falling $75 million in debt.

Wellsby said the monitor was initially not going to allow the resort to honor any of the weddings because of possible financial losses, if revenues from the events, like liquor sales, did not cover costs.

“We spent thousands of dollars fighting this,” he said in a telephone interview.

Mike Erickson, The Falls’ operations vice-president, said he met with wedding groups before Tuesday’s court hearing to assure them their weddings would go ahead, even if the resort closed because of bankruptcy.

He said the resort had an arrangement with the owner of the clubhouse where the wedding receptions are held to make it available to the pre-paid groups.

“I don’t blame people for being uneasy,” he said, adding that the request for additional payment “doesn’t feel fair, and it’s not.”

But the resort’s hands are tied in the face of the court order, he said.

Erickson also pointed out that the additional charge “essentially” means that wedding groups are simply losing part of a discount of up to 20 per cent that they had received for early payment.

Meanwhile, Wellsby said restructuring of the troubled resort’s finances has “made a lot of progress in the last three-month period” under bankruptcy protection.

However, the monitor continued to make plans to market and sell the hillside resort that includes a 233-acre golf course and 71 acres of development lands approved for up to 2,989 residential and commercial units.

The monitor’s last report on May 13 also noted that the cold, rainy weather this spring had driven the resort’s golf revenues “significantly lower” than projected.

The company also continued to need financial help to cover the costs of day-to-day operations and professional fees, the monitor reported, and its cash flow “suffered” from the “lower than anticipated revenues” and required expenditures like $120,070 in property taxes.

An initial $1-million in funding granted back in February was “exhausted” before additional funding was approved Tuesday.

Wellsby said either bankruptcy officials will now find a buyer for the resort, or accept a proposal he is putting together with a partner.

“We’re certainly hoping it’s our proposal that goes forward,” he said.

That proposal involves setting up a new “debt-free” company, with new directors and shareholders – who will ultimately decide if they want Wellsby back at the helm.

But after working for the last 21 years on getting the resort up and running – and keeping it there – Wellsby said he wouldn’t be “disappointed” to take a less demanding role.

“I’d welcome not spending three-quarters of my day on how we raise money,” he said. “This would be a breath of fresh air for me.”

rfreeman@theprogress.com

Just Posted

Chilliwack Fire Department on scene at a house fire on Boundary Road and No. 4 Road on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (David Seltenrich/ Facebook)
Fire crews respond to house fire on border of Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Flames, dark smoke reported coming from front of house when crews arrived

Brandon Hobbs (turquoise shirt), brother of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs, gathers with other family and friends to distribute posters in Chilliwack on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Search efforts expand to Chilliwack and beyond for missing Abbotsford man

Family, friends put up posters in Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope for missing 22-year-old Adam Hobbs

Pig races at the 147th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 10, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack Fair plans in-person event for 149th annual exhibition

Will be first large-scale, in-person event in over a year, provided regulations continue as planned

Vivian Le is one of two local recipients of a Beedie Luminaries scholarship.
Chilliwack students overcome adversity to win Beedie Luminaries scholarships

Sardis secondary’s Vivian Le and G.W. Graham’s Alisa Gusakova are among 112 students receiving money

Crews work on the construction of Stitó:s Lá:lém Totí:lt near the Vedder River on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack School District shuffling catchment areas as Stitó:s Lá:lém totí:lt construction continues

SD33 is looking for public input about proposed catchment and feeder school options

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

Most Read