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City committee approves leasing of golf courses

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A city committee has approved a plan to lease four city-run golf courses.

A new report recommends Winnipeg lease four city-run golf courses -- Crescent Drive, Harbour View, Kildonan Park and Windsor Park -- to the private sector to reduce annual losses from $780,530 to $68,854.

The report is the city's latest attempt to stop the bleeding at Winnipeg Golf Services, a special operating agency that owns 12 public golf courses. The agency was projected to lose about $863,500 in 2012 and has a deficit of $7.1 million.

Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) said there are core city servics Winnipeg needs to maintain - such as roads and infrastructure - and the city is less efficient at operating golf courses than the private sector.

"If there's private groups in the phone book that offer a service, the city shouldn't be in the business of competing," Browaty said. "In this case, there's plenty of private golf courses out there.'

Council's alternate services delivery committee voted in favour of the plan to lease out the city-run courses this afternoon.

The city will have 45 days to discuss the plan with union members, after which the plan will still need to be approved by city council.

The city initially put out an expression-of-interest in 2011 to see if anyone wanted to purchase or take over the long-term leases of seven publicly owned golf courses after an audit revealed the courses have racked up large debts. Their potential sale prompted backlash from community groups that decried the lack of public consultation and possible loss of green space.

Last July, Winnipeg decided to examine the cost of operating the four city-run courses under public or private agreements instead.

 

History

Updated on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 3:00 PM CST: Corrects headline, which erroneously suggested council had approved the leases. In fact a council committee has approved them.

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