The golf course and campground at South Bear Creek Park will be back up and running this spring. The City has given Nitehawk Year-Round Adventure Park a contract to run the former Wee Links facilities.
Just less than a year ago, city council decided against going with the ski hill. South Bear Creek Park Manager Kirsten Maher says they’ve worked with council over the past year to better define what they want to see at the park.
“The proposal that Nitehawk submitted really fit the vision for the park. They have a lot of experience in running and managing campgrounds; they have ties to recreation, and they have that partnership, so it really made a lot of sense.”
The partnership is with the Sunrise Rotary Club of Grande Prairie, which will help with volunteering and fundraising. Nitehawk Assistant General Manager Johnathan Clarkson says they have the man power to help with things like clearing deadfall and selling sponsorships.
“They see it as something that is going to be a good thing for the community, just like we do, and I think that having that partnership is really going to make it an even better place.”
Due to upfront investments in needed equipment, it isn’t expected they’ll turn a profit for at least a couple of years, and when they do, the city will get a 10 per cent cut. However, Clarkson says the deal isn’t just about making money.
“We were very conservative in terms of the revenue that we saw as potential there. We see this as more of an opportunity to keep staff employed year-round so that we’re avoiding having to train staff going into the winters.”
In addition to their chef and RV park manager, Clarkson also sees opportunities for their Snow School instructors to run a junior golf program. Staff are already planning to get in touch with some of the 35 schools that take part.
While Nitehawk will be in charge of managing and operating the facilities, the city will still do the necessary upgrades and repairs. It took over management in 2014 after they closed in 2013, and has since built a new clubhouse and put in artificial greens.
“I think the success will rely on the fact that the City will continue to provide the maintenance for the golf course, because that’s a big undertaking for any group,” says Maher. “By providing that maintenance piece, it just frees up them to just focus on the operations.”
A new name and logo are in the works, and everything should be up and running for this spring, along with the new clubhouse. The process for booking camping spots is also getting developed. The targeted opening date for the golf course is May 20th.