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Calgary’s city-owned golf courses holding off on greener rides

Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong enjoyed a few games of golf this summer at city-owned courses.

He told fellow councillors at last week’s city council meeting that the experiences at Lakeview, McCall Lake, Confederation Park and Shaganappi were great.

Then, he tried a delicate chip shot with city admin.

“When were we planning, or what is the process that we’re planning on switching our golf carts from gas powered to electric? Or is that on the game plan at some point?” Demong asked.

Right now, the City of Calgary has a contract to lease up to 240 gas-powered golf carts annually for their courses. They don’t own any golf carts. 

There are seven city-owned golf courses at five different locations in Calgary.

“The City did explore the use of electric golf carts,” the city wrote in an email response.

“Unfortunately, there are some barriers to implement electric golf carts, the biggest of which is capital investment.”

Recently, the City of Winnipeg, which has three municipal courses, decided to switch to electric carts. They’re looking for up to 120 electric carts to service their needs.

According to a story in the Winnipeg Free Press, that city expected to reduce greenhouse gases by 45 to 50 tonnes annually with the switch. Further, they figured they’d save up to $30,000 on energy costs.

They did have to spend about $50,000 to upgrade storage facilities. That will include wall-mounted chargers. They’re also looking at greening their maintenance equipment, adding hybrid mowers.

Capital cost kept Calgary’s idea in the rough

As the city said, the capital cost kept a potential switch on the first tee.

The City’s golf courses have been under the microscope for the past 12 years. There have been five golf course operations reviews since 2014 and the courses have rarely been profitable. The pandemic changed the fortunes of municipal courses. With a new plan, they’re on track to break even overall.

That means greener upgrades could be in the works.

“The City’s commitment to climate action and implementing the Green Fleet Strategy includes further exploration of alternative fuels for our municipal fleet,” the city said.

While the Climate emergency declaration was one of the first major moves for Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek when elected last October. Calgary now has a climate strategy, but there’s yet to be substantial implementation of it.  This may be a smaller, targeted way to reach climate goals

“Electric golf scooters, carts and bikes are on our radar as potential opportunities for the 2026 golf season to provide greater user experience to citizens, while balancing cost and minimizing environmental impact,” the city said.