August 3, 2021 - Op-ed published in The Chestermere Anchor
We would like to share the following Op-Ed that was published last week in the Chestermere Anchor. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation circulating which we felt needed to be addressed. Peter Paauw, president of Slokker Homes, sets the record straight.
We will be offering small coffee meetings with Peter beginning next month and urge you to attend and ask him directly about any concerns you have about the proposed redevelopment of Lakeside Greens Golf Course. We are the best source of information. Please contact us to register for one of our upcoming coffee sessions.
April 1, 2021 - Pathways Closed for the Season
On behalf of Slokker Homes and Lakeside Greens, we hope you enjoyed the use of the pathways over the winter season.
The pathways will be closed for public use, starting Monday, April 5 due to the start of the 2021 golf season.
January 14, 2021 - Let it Snow! Winter Access to New Rec Paths Now Open
Lakeside Golf Club and its partners, Slokker Homes, have cleared 4.5 kilometres of new pathways for the public’s recreational use. All residents of Chestermere are encouraged to get out, explore and safely enjoy the multi-use trail network that runs through the golf course and connects with the wider existing park network. (See the map)
“The start of the New Year brings renewed hope, even during the darkest of time and we thought this is something that would make things a little brighter and easier for people,” says Peter Paauw, president of Slokker Homes. “It is with great pleasure that the Lakeside partners offer this new multi-use trail network to be open for winter use by the general public.”
The trails are for walking and running only. No cycling or other winter activities such as cross-country skiing will be permitted.
“It’s been a hard winter. We know that getting outdoors and connecting with each other and with nature, in a safe and socially distanced way, offers tremendous benefits to one’s mental health and wellbeing,” added Paauw, who begins and ends his days by walking his dog Abby. Many of us have experienced the stress and anxiety brought on by COVID 19. We understand the loneliness and fear that arises from long periods of isolation.
Dog walkers are reminded to keep pets on a leash at all times.
The trails snake through the golf course connecting Westmere Loop with the Rainbow and West Lake trails. When combined with these existing pathways, the total network is more than 12 kilometres.“We’re hoping this makes it easier for everyone to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air,” says Paauw.
“There’s no need to let the Alberta winter keep you shut in.”Come out and discover the pathways for yourselves. Get some air, go for a run or a socially-distanced walk and embrace the winter. “We are all in this together. Let’s be kind to one another and stay safe.
October 28, 2020 - Door Knocking in the Neighbourhood
It was a pleasure meeting many of you. For those we missed, our apologies. We hope to meet you next time! You can view the postcard we handed out below.
From knocking on more than 200 doors, it became clear to us that there is much confusion and concern among you, particularly around the lack of information, and how our proposed development and partnership came to light. We want to assure you that there is no ill-will or intention to hide information. We simply are at the very early stages of preparing an application, and the word spread before we were ready to speak about our plans.
What we can tell you is that we very recently reached a partnership deal with the owners of Lakeside Golf Club. Together, we will propose a future development plan for the area. We are very early in the planning stages – so much so that we do not have a plan yet. It is very important to us that members of the community, like yourself, participate in future development discussions.
This website was created to start the conversation. We hope it will serve as a useful forum where you can find the facts and information that you are looking for, and have your voices heard.
We also encourage you to join our mailing list to ensure you receive the latest updates, news and information on ways to engage. Our website is the source of all information pertaining to the project and its plans and will be evolving frequently as our team works, together with you, to create a bright new future for Lakeside and Chestermere.
Q&A from Information Sessions
Slokker Homes recently held two public information sessions about its planned proposed development for the Lakeside Golf Course in Chestermere. We were very pleased with the attendance at both sessions. Hundreds of people joined our virtual information sessions on March 9th and 11th to learn more about our vision for the future of Lakeside Golf Course. Given that we received hundreds of questions, we have categorized them all and below is a summary of the most commonly asked questions and answers.
We look forward to hosting another event in the upcoming months as we work to finalize our proposal and hope to make a formal application before the City of Chestermere.
The questions have been edited for clarity and grammar only. The context has not been changed.
What happened to the original three proposals from last year?
We are unaware of any “original proposals” and these were likely before our time.
Is there a Master Plan or Conceptual Plan that we can view? If not, when will it be released?
As of March 30th, there is no Master Plan. We are currently working on a high level vision for the area. We will begin to work on a formal Master Plan that will be part of the ASP submission. It will reflect guidelines determined by Planning Administration as well as public consultation and engagement efforts.
We hope to have something present later this year.
When will Slokker be publicly presenting the options for development?
See the above answer.
When will proper site development maps be available for viewing?
Detailed plans are not expected before the late fall of 2021.
What opportunities will the public have to comment on the proposal?
There will be a number of opportunities for the community to become involved and provide input int the proposal. Focus groups, online discussion boards, surveys, and more will occur to discuss the following four main topics with respect to the envisioned development:
1. Walkability and maintainable public amenities. The area will feature more than five kilometers of pathway that can be walked in circular fashion, will be separated from roadways and provide for safe pedestrian crossings. Future questions to consider:
- Adding a cross country ski loop
- Providing and maintaining skating?
- Adding a half court for basketball?
- Adding a pickle ball court?
- Can we work with a local charity to operate a community centre long-term without requiring a city subsidiary? Could this community centre double up as warming place and teahouse (like Bowness Park teahouse
- Can we add a spectacular playground by a supplier such as Monstrum or Greenscape.
2. Infrastructure, a high-level report was commissioned and all services are available but we will review all concerns and potential impacts as well as solutions.
3. Mainstreet. Early on we identified the opportunity to add a main street alongside Chestermere Boulevard, which would create a centre for Chestermere to enjoy soft retail amenities. These types of retail are more focused on leisure and not necessities, a bakery, ice cream shop, local coffeeshop and small boutique style shopping experiences are envisioned in a walkable and relaxed environment.
4. Fiscal viability, the golf course is situated in the middle of Chestermere and is surrounded by a lot of infrastructure that needs to be maintained. Development of the golf course densifies the area and uses the existing infrastructure more efficiently. Instead of $70,000 in property taxes the area generates as a golf course, we conservatively estimate it could generate $3,921,500 in property taxes. The local roadways added are relatively small in length compared to the amount of housing units added and should therefore lower the average tax burden per household in Chestermere. Any additional amenities will be maintained via an endowment fund paid for by the developer and the to be created local community association.
How many houses do you expect to build?
The initial concept calls for 1,200 homes. This is an initial estimate. The exact number will be determined during the planning process.
What types of houses will be built? What is the proposed percentage breakdown of each?
We do not have an exact estimate of how many homes of each type will be built. This will be determined during the planning process.
On a high level, based on our current vision, 60 per cent developed land area, approximately 50 per cent will be low-density residential (i.e. single-family homes), with 25 per cent medium-density (i.e. town houses) and 25 per cent mixed residential/commercial (i.e. store fronts with upstairs apartments or condos with commercial on ground floor).
There is great concern about very high-density development, similar to the Harvest Hills development in Calgary. What will you do to ensure low-density development? What is the proposed units per hectare?
Harvest Hills is about 35 per cent denser than what we are proposing for Lakeside. Shawnee Park is approximately 67 per cent denser. The Lakeside concept will also have a greater proportion of single-detached homes and more open space than either of these projects. We are looking at approximately 7.8 units per gross acre, whereas Harvest Hills was approved for 10.9 units per and Shawnee Park was closer to 13.4 units per acre.
What is the proposed percentage breakdown of residential, commercial, and green space?
We do not yet have a proposed breakdown. This will be determined through the planning process. We are committed to 40% green space. Our high-level plan envisions a viable main street development alongside a residential community.
The majority of the proposal is residential and commercial. Would Slokker consider decreasing commercial and residential development to allow for 60 per cent green space?
We believe 40 per cent open space is the right number. It is well above what you typically see for similar developments and provides us with ample room to build great new natural amenity space for Chestermere.
What will the average lot size be for the different types of homes?
To be determined.
Will homes be large enough to allow for multi-generational families?
Yes, a variety of formats and designs will be provided to accommodate all types of families.
Will the single-family homes have two-car garages? What will the parking be for the remaining homes?
To be determined. Parking requirements are subject to the Land Use Bylaw.
How do you plan to preserve the current design aesthetic of the neighbourhood of high quality and unique homes? Or will these homes all be standardized and look the same?
Slokker will work with various design consultants to provide a design aesthetic complementary to the existing architecture and character of the area. Design will be a major component of public engagement.
Will it be housing purchase only or will there be rental development as well?
Both will be provided, with most homes being for sale.
In relation to the current golf course (i.e. three ponds, 4th hole, Merganser), where will the majority of green space, residential, and commercial be located? Where will the low density and mid-density development be located?
We envision spreading the greenspace throughout the development so both existing and new residents have convenient access. It will be designed to accommodate a pathway network with connections to existing paths, ponds, and parks, Chestermere Lake, and the existing transmission right- of-way. Most importantly, a green buffer of a minimum of 10 metres will be created between existing and new development. In many places, it will be more than this and will include pathways, parks and open natural space.
What will the minimum setback going to be from the development backing onto existing homes?
See above answer.
Will there be a green space buffer between all of the current homes and new development?
See above answer.
Will you plant trees to block the new development?
Yes, trees will be planted as part of the natural buffer between new and existing development.
How will you ensure current residents will maintain views and access to green space?
Higher density portions of the project will be placed to minimize visual impact on existing homes. This, along with the green space and green ‘buffer’ will ensure existing homes have views to nature and improved access to it.
Will there be dedicated fenced off-leash parks?
If a strong desire for fenced off-leash parks is expressed throughout the public engagement process, it is something we would be happy to explore.
Will the pathways be lit?
This will be determined in detailed design and will be influenced by guidelines or bylaws set out by the City of Chestermere.
Where will Main Street be located and is this where the higher density of the development will be situated?
See earlier answer above.
Will you be regrading and raising the land?
Regrading will be kept to a minimum requirement, to achieve proper stormwater drainage, for instance.
Will Slokker commit to building-height limits to ensure light access to existing homes? How tall will the largest buildings be?
Building heights are mandated by the Land Use Bylaw and specific to the land-use designation of each parcel. Land uses are determined in consultation with the City Planning Department and will require Council approval. We will work carefully to ensure that the impacts of taller buildings have minimal impact on existing residences. In general, we expect maximums of three-storeys for all single family housing, duplexes and townhouses. The main street with retail and apartments will be a range of four to five storeys, depending on design and economics. Typically, lower heights can be expected the closer we get to existing neighbours.
How will this development impact the view from the lake?
Most of the new development will not be visible from the lake, however possibly some Main Street buildings might be from certain vantage points. Views, heights and building massing specific to each building in the commercial area are evaluated and re-evaluated during the planning and approval process, and prior to issuing of development permits required for construction.
Where will the road access be to the new development?
To be determined with the City of Chestermere Planning and Transportation Departments, with designs subject to engineering standards and based on Traffic Impact Assessments.
With Chestermere already having access to recreational activities such as skating, pathways, etc. what will be unique and will justify the loss of the golf-course? Can we expect to see the desired pools and recreation centre from the survey?
The decision on what public amenities will be provided will be driven by the expressed desires of residents during the public consultation process. However, in any future scenario, the private golf course will be converted to public amenity that all Chestermerians can enjoy, whereas currently only members of the golf course can use the space.
Examples include dog parks, sport courts, and bonfire areas. There will also be winter recreational opportunities that were not provided at the golf course previously, such as the pathways that were cleared and used this winter.
What about a new recreation centre?
Slokker is committed to having discussions with the City of Chestermere and Province of Alberta regarding the future of the recreation centre, however it is outside of the property of the Lakeside golf course, and thus requires the City and Province’s support to proceed. This possibility will be presented early in the planning process to determine municipal and provincial support.
Was reducing the golf course to a 9-hole executive course considered?
Yes. However, reducing the golf course to a 9-hole executive course does not change the fact that the golf course is operating at a loss; therefore, there is no intention to maintain partial operation of the course.
Would you consider including a driving range in the design?
The golf course provided recreation to many junior golfers. Are there other programs being planned for the youth of the community to replace golf?
A variety of new recreational opportunities will exist for youth in the area, from recreation courts to cross-country ski trails to outdoor stages, which will provide new public infrastructure usable by local clubs and new initiatives. The principles of Mixed-Use neighbourhoods mean that local youth will have access to new activities, year-round, within safe walking or biking distance from home.
Where exactly will the commercial development occur? Where is your current proposal for the location of Main Street? How will Chestermere Blvd be incorporated into the design?
See earlier answers. While the exact location of the Main Street will be determined during the planning approvals process, we believe that Chestermere Boulevard interface offers the best opportunity for access, exposure and commercial viability.
How many new businesses will be developed? Would you consider a farmer’s market in the new town centre?
A new farmers market space is absolutely something we believe should be considered for within the town centre. We believe that an attractive town centre will keep many local businesses in the heart of Chestermere, though we can’t predict numbers at this point.
How much will the commercial development help offset residential taxes?
Currently Chestermere residents pay a disproportionately high amount of residential property tax compared to similar municipalities, due to the limited amount of commercial activity in the City. New commercial will not only generate more tax revenue than the existing course, but it will offset the burden placed on property owners. The exact amount is a function of many factors including the amount of commercial versus residential development, all yet to be determined.
What type of businesses are proposed to be opened?
While we can’t predict exactly what businesses will occupy the Main Street, generally the walkable streets and smaller scale of this type of development attract smaller independent businesses, local restaurants, cafes, small offices and fitness studios to name a few.
With the “Harvest Hills” project there were TONS of promises, and very little follow through. What solidifies or confirms that the design you portray to the residents will remain the same through to project completion?
We are not aware of any major deviations from the approved plan in Harvest Hills, it certainly has not been published. Slokker Homes is known for its rigorous planning approach and realistic assessment of what is possible. Our approach to low maintenance public amenities is one of the many examples.
What comfort would residents have that you would not sell off portions of the land to others or change the design for profit purposes? (i.e. building mostly condos, townhomes and reducing greenspace)
The land-use process will identify the green space, which will be handed over to the City of Chestermere. Individual parcels will carry the zoning as approved by the City and are rarely changed.
How did the partnership between the current ownership and Slokker come about? Did the current ownership or Slokker initiate the endeavor?
This relationship developed organically. When it became apparent the golf course’s financial position was deteriorating, and capital infrastructure issues were mounting, a change of use was discussed and acted upon.
At the time of purchase, did Slokker believe the golf course was not viable? If so, why did they purchase it? Was it purchased with development pre-planned?
Slokker Homes was contracted to pursue the best use of the golf course lands after the existing ownership came to the conclusion that the golf course was no longer viable, and that viability will continue to erode.
Why was ownership of the golf course transferred to Slokker without honouring members’ right of first refusal?
The golf course has not been sold. Slokker Homes reached a partnership agreement to pursue the best use of the golf course lands.
How much money has Slokker invested in this golf course?
This is private and confidential information.
In the meetings, presenters have given the impression that this development is a done deal. What is actual status of this development project?
We have prefaced all of our communications with the reality that this project is a proposal and requires City of Chestermere approval. We have always indicated we will participate and rigorously follow the city’s planning process. Having said that, this project is in early planning stages. Slokker Homes has not yet submitted a formal application to the City of Chestermere.
When are you submitting an application to the city?
No date for submission has been set. Slokker Homes will be following any processes for application as laid out by the City of Chestermere. Moreover, we are passionate about pre-consultation to identify all concerns and more importantly all opportunities. A majority of our consultation was done via virtual information sessions as we were unable to meet in person due to COVID. This work will be followed up with workshops and focus groups and other means of two-way communication. The resulting plan is based on a carefully thought-out balancing act between concerns and opportunities and should work as a win-win for the citizens of Chestermere, the City of Chestermere, and the ownership group, while as best as possible minimizing any impact on individual neighbours or golfers.
Have golf course experts, rather than developers, done a feasibility study for the golf course? What are the credentials of those who did the feasibility study?
The study was conducted by MNP, one of the largest national accounting firms in Canada. They perform audits and feasibility studies on a variety of facilities in various industries, including other golf courses.
Did Slokker pay for the feasibility report on the golf course’s figures? If so, how can we trust it?
Slokker Homes did commission and pay for the report. MNP is a professional third party who reported on the data and financials they received from the golf course operator. The results of the report were unbiased.
The report only looked at the financials for 2015-2019, a time of hardship for many Albertans. Why did the report not look at the full span of the golf course’s financial history?
The report looked at today’s market and economic reality. Like Blockbuster, the golf course industry was in a decent shape during the 90s. Cracks started to appear during the early 2000 and changes in leisure preferences started to accelerate in 2010 and beyond. Approximately 1,200 golf courses closed in North America over the last 10 years with a staggering 205 courses closed in 2017 alone.
Why does the MNP not reflect the increased income from 2020?
It was commissioned during 2020, when the year-end financials were not yet available.
Why did you release an MNP report to CBC instead of having conversations directly with Chestermere residents?
Releasing a detailed report to the public without context could result in misunderstanding of the numbers and notes. We chose a third-party to read it in its entirety and communicate its meaning to a greater audience.
We have presented the financial report to a few interested members of the public and a few members of the Lakeside preservation society. The report is available on a confidential basis and we are willing to present the report to any small group of interested members of the public.
When will residents have access to the full report? From where can it be accessed once released?
See answer above.
Will an unabridged version of the report be released?
We will publish the report’s highlights on our webpage.
How can owners who had no financial motivation to make the golf course viable, and every financial motivation to develop, base the decision to develop on one questionable viability study?
The owners have had every financial motivation to make sure the golf course was financially viable. It is their money on the line. When an investment becomes a labour of love more than a safe place for one’s money, hard choices need to be made.
Have you done your due diligence to ensure the golf course isn’t being mismanaged and new management could make it viable again?
Yes, we have done our due diligence.
There are non-golf revenue streams available to the golf course during off seasons including winter recreation, events, etc. How can it be justified that the golf course is not viable if not everything has been done to increase revenue, such as offering year-round recreation?
The fundamental viability of the course was studied. There are no examples of other golf courses, with a similar community profile, succeeding using the above tactics.
Have you researched the viability of the golf course if investments were made to update and improve the current facilities? Why can’t a new management group improve the course and attract new members and clientele?
When the course was for sale there was no such credible offer, largely because it is a money-losing asset in a rapidly contracting industry.
The golf course has historically catered to higher income residents. Would shifting the course to be more a family friendly facility would there not be more money to be made?
The green fees are in a downward competitive spiral with all other golf courses in the area. Fewer people are golfing across all demographics.
With the development of new community and a growing population in Chestermere, would the potential for increased memberships not improve the sustainability of the golf course?
Calgary has grown from 1.135 million in 2008 to 1.581 million in 2020. The number of rounds of golf has dropped during that time period (The City of Calgary golf courses started to lose money 2012 onwards). Please note the answer above. Fewer Canadians are golfing across all demographics.
Growth of the junior league, men’s league reaching capacity, new adult golfers joining, and a busy tee-time schedule this summer indicate that Lakeside is booming. Would this not indicate that Lakeside will continue to have financial growth and viability?
Tee times did increase during the exceptional 2020 Covid year, most likely 2021 will be similar. However, overall revenue for Lakeside dropped in 2020. The demographic trends prior to 2020 are not expected to disappear and are actually visible in the reduced membership numbers and age profile.
Golf courses globally, including courses in the surrounding area, saw an uptick in revenue last year, therefore why is Lakeside not seen as viable?
The global uptick in 2020 golf course use is largely attributable to COVID-19. We are basing our decision making on the longer-term trends that have been seen in the golf industry over the previous 10+ years.
With new ownership, the Langdon golf course has been able to successfully stay open, why would the same not be true for Lakeside?
Langdon went into bankruptcy in 2019 and was purchased out of bankruptcy in 2020.
This fall, the previous owner told residents that 2020 was a banner year for golf and that the golf course had been profitable. Why were these figures not included in the financial report? Will these findings be made public?
See earlier answer.
Were the financial reports audited?
The statements used to compile the MNP report were unaudited financial statements provided by the ownership group of the golf course.
How have stopping the sale of memberships and turning away Men’s League memberships this year and last impacted the course’s finances?
Long-term memberships were valued at $100. There was no impact on course finances.
We have suffered economically over the past five to eight years. Was this factored into the MNP data? Would it not be more representative to look over the course of 20 years where there have been periods of higher economic stability as well as the recent decline of spare household income in the last 5 years?
See earlier answer.
Will the golf course operate for the 2021 season?
Who will be managing the course while it remains open?
Current management will continue.
What will happen to the people who have memberships?
All members will be reimbursed for their original membership purchase price. This has been individually communicated.
We have been told that the golf course will remain open for at least two years. What maintenance budget and capital budget is Slokker prepared to support?
It will continue as usual.
What is the plan for the existing club house?
The existing club house needs extensive and costly refurbishment. We propose replacing the club house with a modern, multi-functional community facility that will be donated to the City of Chestermere.
Based on the feedback from Chestermere residents, would Slokker consider a market value sale of the course to a buyer who is willing to run it as a golf course?
Slokker Homes is committed to bringing a win-win development proposal to the City of Chestermere. We will review the many opportunities that a walkable, city centre will bring.
Could the City of Chestermere buy the golf course and keep it open?
We can’t speak on behalf of the City of Chestermere. It is difficult to see how assuming the liability of a non-viable golf course would be an appropriate use of community funds or in the interest of Chestermere taxpayers.
If denied rezoning, will Slokker Home, as majority owners, invest money into the operational and capital improvements that are required annually to operate and maintain a golf course? How committed is Slokker to investing capital and operating Lakeside Golf Club?
We are not a golf course operator. We have committed to keeping the course operating through to the end of the 2022 season.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Slokker Homes?
The Slokker Group was founded as a family-run company in the Netherlands in 1935. We’ve been in Canada since 1995 and in Alberta since 2007, with the founding of Slokker Homes. Our values run deep. For more than 80 years, we have been delivering projects, communities and homes of value. With a head office in Calgary, our Alberta activity has been in the province’s best communities, including Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, Edmonton, Chestermere and High River. We build townhomes, condos, single-family homes and mixed-use commercial properties that all reflect our hallmarks of beauty and quality craftsmanship.
From the moment each project is conceived, our goal is to help customers achieve their aims of owning a home they love, that offers a solid financial investment into the future. Using skills and expertise we develop from project to project, we minimize our costs and maximize the quality of the product we deliver to our buyers — passing along savings and creating shared value.
Our greatest achievement is the lasting relationships we develop with our customers, suppliers and partners, built on a foundation of trust. We are currently active in Calgary’s Currie Barracks, Airdrie, Cochrane, Edmonton and St. Albert.
Quality is a core value, and we are committed to the principals of exceptional urban planning, investing heavily in research, design and the continuing education of our people.
What is happening?
We have entered a partnership with the Lakeside Golf Club (L.G. Golf Limited) to propose a future development. We will follow the municipality’s application process and meet all requirements.
What are the development plans?
We do not have formal plans at this time and must first and foremost engage the community around a vision.
Any proposed redevelopment in an established community such as this would require changes to local laws and must adhere to a comprehensive process, which we will comply with. We are committed to full engagement and will have more information on what this entails very soon.
Chestermere became a city in 2015 and is a growing and dynamic community. It’s one that we already feel invested in through our Townhomes of Chestermere Station project, which we completed in 2014. Chestermere is growing faster than its infrastructure, and we have much to contribute in this area. We look forward to working collaboratively with the municipality and citizens to provide expanded services that meet the needs required by a growing and dynamic community such as Chestermere.
The time is right given the declining state of the Lakeside Golf Club and the opportunity to create a community that unlocks valuable economic opportunities, meets emerging housing needs and provides lots of enviable greenspace in the heart of Chestermere. These ideas have yet to be worked into a formal plan.
What is the status of your application?
We are still in the very beginning stages of preparing an application to go before the city. We have not yet submitted this application. These are early days for the project, but the start of engagement with the community.
What are the next steps?
We will prepare and submit a formal application to launch the process and will begin public engagement.
Who do I talk to if I have questions or concerns?
We welcome any dialogue and will have many options to converse with us and our team in the near future. In the meantime, for questions that aren’t answered here, please contact us by email.