Garrison Memorial Golf

Courtesy golfpass

Those Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen sure like to swing and sweep.

Blacklock’s Reporter says the Defence department is spending millions of dollars at money-losing golf and curling clubs to “help foster esprit de corps” for members.

Auditors questioned why the military was competing with local sports clubs in the first place.

“If the activity is already offered by the local business community there is a risk the special interest activity may inadvertently compete with local privately-run businesses,” said a department report.

Auditors found military-owned golf clubs operated in cities that “had on average eight or more private sector competitors in their local area.”

The department spent $17.4 million annually on “social enterprise businesses.” Revenues were $14.7 million. Auditors said “33% of year-end special interest activity income statements reported a negative net income.”

The military owns 39 sports clubs nationwide, like the Edmonton Garrison Memorial Golf and Curling Club, Nova Scotia’s Hartlen Point Gulf club and Shearwater Yacht Club, the Garrison Golf and Country Club at Kingston, Ont. and Circled Pine Golf And Curling Club at Borden, Ont.

The facilities “contribute to physical, social and familial wellness while collectively they help foster esprit de corps and develop unit morale,” said the report.

“Special interest activities on bases can include the following: golf clubs, curling clubs, marinas and sailing, horse riding clubs, rod and gun clubs, campgrounds and cabins, and food and beverage services.”

The clubs were “an important part of military culture providing military personnel, their families and the broader defence community an opportunity to socialize and engage in group or individual leisure activities.”

But auditors noted clubs sold memberships to the general public in direct competition with the private sector.

“Policy dictates the combined non-military membership at a special interest activity shall not exceed 50% of the total membership,” said the report.

“Several special interest activities have requested exceptions to this, citing financial sustainability.

“Policies require special interest activities to operate as businesses with the goal of being financially sustainable.”

“Sustainability” was widely interpreted, the report added, with unnamed club managers found to “interpret a net loss as acceptable” as long as it was subsidized by the Department of National Defence.

Auditors said they knew of instances where money-losing clubs were leased to contractors or closed altogether, but provided no examples.

“They are operated as social enterprise businesses with the goal of being financially profitable and sustainable while reinvesting profits in the defence community,” said the report.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief

Dave Naylor is News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief of the Western Standard based in the Calgary Headquarters. He served as City Editor of the Calgary Sun & covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years.

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