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Former Royal Oak Golf Course on market for $9.5M

Current zoning allows a buyer to revive the golf course, but the majority of the land is within the Agricultural Land Reserve, which would limit other uses.

Eight years after the Royal Oak Golf Course shut down, its ­owners have put it on the market for $9.5 million.

Nearby residents have been debating the best use for the 27-acre property at 540 Marsett Pl., which has turned into a popular walking and recreation area with wildlife-attracting ponds.

The land is bordered by Elk and Beaver Lake Regional Park and by multi-family residential properties.

The property has been owned by a Saskatchewan-based numbered company called 1122580 B.C. Ltd. since August 2017, when it was purchased for $3.5 million, B.C. land records show.

Current zoning allows a buyer to revive the golf course, but the majority of the land is within the Agricultural Land Reserve, which would limit other uses.

Saanich municipal staff wrote a report to council in 2019 recommending council reject an application to remove it from the reserve and the issue was dropped.

Real estate listing agent Santanna Portman with William Wright Commercial said Wednesday that potential buyers are encouraged to do their due diligence and talk to the nearby community representatives to understand what use of the site would be welcome. The site, listed this week, is promoted on the real estate firm’s website as suitable for development.

So far there’s been some interest in bringing it back as a golf course, while others have talked about contacting the municipality and donating part of it as parkland, Portman said. Some prospective buyers are interested in long-term development, she said.

The nine-hole golf course closed in 2015. The owners said at that time that it was not economically viable. The site holds a clubhouse with meeting rooms, an equipment rental space and restaurant facilities with an outdoor patio with seating for up to 120. A golfers’ lounge with a private meeting room can accommodate up to 75 people.

A tenant in the clubhouse who gives golf lessons has said there’s been increased interest in the sport since the pandemic, Portman said.

When the golf course was sold in 2017, a neighbour started to collect names for a petition to the province urging that the site be saved as green space.

Roger Graham, president of the Royal Oak Community Association, said the organization believes the property should remain in the ALR, noting during the pandemic, transportation and distribution chains collapsed and some products were suddenly unavailable.

“We would be happy with a suitable agricultural use, recognizing that there are some agricultural uses that would be considered incompatible with the surrounding neighbourhood.”

If the land is not used for agriculture, he suggests it could become a green space or perhaps be attached to the regional park and available to the community.

Graham said he is not surprised the site is on the market, adding the challenges of developing the property are considerable. It’s not easy to get land removed from the ALR, and part of the property is outside Saanich’s urban containment boundary.

A development could require a change to that boundary, “which is also not very easy to obtain these days,” Graham said.

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