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Split golf course plan passes EPC committee

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Harbour View Golf Course may be leased out.

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Harbour View Golf Course may be leased out.

The City of Winnipeg's embattled plan to sell one of its golf courses and lease four others has been approved by Mayor Sam Katz's inner circle - but only after it was divided into two components.

Council's executive policy committee voted this morning to sell John Blumberg Golf Course and sign a 20-year lease with Conestoga, Ont. operator Golf North Properties to run and maintain the links at Kildonan Park, Windsor Park, Harbour View and Crescent Park.

The approval only came after Mayor Sam Katz, the committee chairman, agreed to split the plan into two parts.

Katz and Couns. Russ Wyatt (Transcona), Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) and Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) voted in favour of the lease component, while Couns. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface), Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) and Brian Mayes (St. Vital) opposed the deal with GolfNorth Properties.

Vandal and Mayes argued the savings from the lease have been exaggerated.

The sale of the 81-hectare John Blumberg site, meanwhile, was approved 6-1, with only Pagtakhan opposing it.

The overall plan now faces a council vote on May 29, where it requires a two-thirds majority to pass. That translates into a minimum of 11 votes in a 16-member council.

As of this morning, it did not appear there is enough support for the plan, as no fewer than six and as many as 10 councillors opposed the overall proposal. But components now stand a chance of council approval if they are split up.

One of the opponents, Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck, told EPC the integrity of the process is questionable due to the city's $90,000 advertising campaign in favour of the proposal.

EPC also heard arguments against the golf course plan from the Canadian Union for Public Employees Local 500, the Winnipeg Labour Council, the Friends of Kildonan Park and citizens Ron Mazur, Harry Wolbert, David Sanders and Frank Liebzeit.

They urged the city to abandon the plan and decried the $90,000 ad campaign, which initially urged citizens to ask their councillors to support the campaign.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation spoke in favour of the plan, agreeing with the assertion it will save the city money.

Precisely how much money was a matter of debate, as Winnipeg's Golf Services special operating agency transfers funds to general city revenues every year in the form of rent in lieu of property taxes and payments for city services.

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