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City auditors review 2-year-old report on golf operations for EPC

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The city's John Blumberg golf course (above) would be sold and four other city-owned courses leased to a private operator under the proposed plan.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

The city's John Blumberg golf course (above) would be sold and four other city-owned courses leased to a private operator under the proposed plan. Photo Store

City auditors appeared before Mayor Sam Katz’s inner circle Tuesday afternoon to re-present conclusions of a two-year-old review of Winnipeg’s golf operations.

At a special meeting of council’s executive policy committee, city auditor Brian Whiteside and deputy auditor Bryan Mansky presented highlights from an operational review of the city’s Golf Services special operating agency, a city entity intended to function like an independent business.

That review, accepted by council in 2011, concluded the city should stop operating golf courses and allow the private sector to do the job, thanks to a combination of an inflexible pay structure and reduced use of city golf courses. The city owns a total of 12 golf courses, whose combined operations amount to annual losses for Golf Services.

The auditors’ appearance came one day before a council vote on a plan to declare one golf course surplus and lease four others to an Ontario operator for 20 years. Katz said Whiteside wanted to present the findings of his audit after being assailed by delegations to EPC last week. Whiteside, meanwhile, said both he and Katz decided to re-present the conclusions of the 2011 review.

St. Boniface Coun. Dan Vandal called the presentation a waste of the auditors’ time, given their department is working on a fire-paramedic construction program review, a real-estate audit and reviews of both the Winnipeg Police Service and the city’s public works department.

Vandal is among at least seven councillors expected to vote against the lease component of the golf-course plan on Wednesday. Any more than five votes against the lease -- which would see GolfNorth Properties of Conestoga, Ont. operate and maintain golf courses at Kildonan Park, Harbour View, Crescent Park and Windsor Park – would kill the deal, which requires approval of a two-thirds majority of council.

The other component of the plan, the proposed sale of the city-owned John Blumberg golf course in Headingley, only requires a simple majority vote to pass. But a two-thirds majority would be required to conclude a sale at some point in the future when a buyer has been found.

Katz said even if the lease component fails, he is pleased by the dialogue taking place in Winnipeg. He said he likes the idea of turning Harbour View golf course into a park.

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