May 24, 2015

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Council votes to sell Blumberg, but against leasing 4 other golf courses

John Blumberg Golf Course in Headingley is going up for sale – but the proposed lease of four other city-owned golf courses has been defeated on the floor of city council.

After a lengthy debate about the future of city courses on Wednesday, council took the first step toward a sale of one of the Winnipeg's 12 sets of links, the 81-hectare John Blumberg site along the north bank of the Assiniboine River.

Council voted to sell the John Blumberg Golf Course, but not to lease four other city-owned courses to an Ontario company.


Council voted to sell the John Blumberg Golf Course, but not to lease four other city-owned courses to an Ontario company. Photo Store

But as expected, council did not rally behind Mayor Sam Katz and Deputy Mayor Russ Wyatt's drive to approve a 20-year deal that would have seen Conestoga, Ont., operator GolfNorth Properties run and maintain links at Crescent Park, Harbour View, Kildonan Park and Windsor Park.

Although the GolfNorth proposal was defeated in an 8-7 vote, the deal actually failed by a wider margin because a two-thirds majority of council is required to approve a lease of that length.

The plan to declare John Blumberg golf course in Headingley surplus to the city's needs was approved 9-6. That vote only required a simple majority, but any future sale of the 81-hectare riverfront site will require a two-thirds majority of council. Swandel opined the city likely won't get a great offer.

Elmwood-East Kildonan Coun. Thomas Steen recused himself from the debate and vote, citing a "perceived conflict of interest" of a personal nature.

Today's meeting also saw two attempts by members of council to censure Katz and Wyatt for spending $90,000 on an advertising and marketing campaign in favour of the golf-course plan. That campaign, dubbed Responsible Winnipeg, initially included an effort to convince Winnipeggers to convince their councillors to support the proposal.

Couns. Havixbeck and Smith moved a motion to give Katz and Wyatt 60 days to provide a list of expenditures on Responsible Winnipeg, including those made to marketing firm Direct Focus.

Couns. Eadie and Gerbasi, meanwhile, moved a motion to ask the city develop a set up a criteria to monitor executive policy committee's new policy and communications office, whose funds were used to pay for the Responsible Winnipeg campaign.

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