Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Putting around

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The city seems to have found another way to avoid taking decisive and meaningful action on Winnipeg's underused and deteriorating golf courses. The latest report recommends council try to lease four city-run golf courses in an effort to eliminate the red ink.

The city's 12 public courses could lose about $800,000 this year, adding to a total debt of more than $7 million.

It's worth a shot to see if the private sector is interested in taking over and upgrading the four courses, which are popular with beginners, but it may only be a short-term solution, at best.

A consultant's report has already warned the city it should consider unloading some of its golf courses because they are financial black holes and because the industry is over-supplied. There are too many golf courses in and around Winnipeg to serve the market, the consultant said, a trend that exists in cities across North America.

The city had considered the possibility of closing some courses and developing the land, but the idea was dropped in the face of opposition that wasn't prepared to surrender one centimetre of green space.

Unfortunately, the city did not make a real effort to consult with the community on the issues. If it had, it might have convinced enough people it is possible to preserve large tracts of green space and still make land available for development.

A mixed-use plan would have staunched the bleeding and expanded the tax base, while still allowing cross-country skiers and others ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

The city, however, lacks a backbone and the courage to take a stand on seemingly difficult issues. The result is inertia that prevents the city from moving forward and improving its bottom line.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2013 A16

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