Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Golf course site might not remain green

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THE proposed sale of the John Blumberg Golf Course has led to speculation about what, if anything, could replace the 27-hole set of links on the north bank of the Assiniboine River in Headingley.

On Friday, city council's alternate service delivery (ASD) committee will consider selling off the 81-hectare property, one of 12 golf courses owned by the City of Winnipeg.

The city intends to reinvest proceeds from the sale in existing recreational facilities, but the size of the financial windfall will depend on the potential range of uses on the property, situated entirely inside the RM of Headingley.

Winnipeg's neighbour to the west, which received no official warning of the city's plan, has yet to determine whether a new John Blumberg owner would be able to develop the land or must keep it a golf course.

"What's it worth to a potential buyer if you can't do anything with it?" Headingley Mayor Wilf Taillieu asked Tuesday in a telephone interview. "We in Headingley would have to strike out something we would like to see in terms of maximum and minimum development (parameters) for that land."

Potential options for the site include keeping the 27-hole course intact, developing part of it into residential housing or redeveloping the entire site. Intensive development would be unlikely, as that would conflict with the character of the municipality, Taillieu said.

"Residents in Headingley don't want to see dense urban growth. They want to see large-lot development," he said. "Perhaps there's a potential buyer who wants to leave it as a golf course."

It is unclear whether the city will place any caveats on the sale of the land that would prevent it from being developed into residential housing. Earlier this week, ASD committee chairman Russ Wyatt (Transcona) offered no opinion about the optimal use of the land.

Mayor Sam Katz said it would be premature to ponder the potential options, as council must first declare the land surplus. "Right now, it's a golf course and that is what it is," Katz said Tuesday.

At some point, however, the city must consider what, if any conditions it would apply to the sale.

"We're going to have to undertake an analysis to see what would be the best return for the city, respecting this is outside our jurisdiction," property director Barry Thorgrimson said.

According to a map attached to the ASD committee report, the proposed sale would involve the golf course only and not the city-owned soccer and baseball pitches next door. But this has not been clarified with Headingley, Taillieu said.

In recent years, development has intensified at the western edge of Winnipeg's St. Charles ward, on parcels of city land that sit outside the Perimeter Highway.

The development of the Pointe West Autopark north of Portage Avenue and new residential homes south of Portage have paved the way for an upcoming Shindico commercial development and eventually, new residential housing on a 105-hectare parcel of land adjacent Assiniboia Downs.

None of this will influence development in Headingley, said Taillieu, who pledged to consult with his councillors and constituents about the future of the John Blumberg site.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2013 B1

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