Save our green spaces: Community groups seek input in city’s plan to sell golf courses

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Community groups concerned with the sale of Winnipeg's financially troubled golf courses are petitioning the city to consult the public before moving ahead with any proposed developments.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/12/2011 (3997 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Community groups concerned with the sale of Winnipeg’s financially troubled golf courses are petitioning the city to consult the public before moving ahead with any proposed developments.

Cam Regier, a board member of Save Our Seine, said the city has opted to entertain proposals and sell golf courses before considering whether the land could have other public uses. He would like to see Winnipeg seek input from community groups, so things such as pathways and ski trails could be integrated into future plans and not included as an afterthought.

City spokeswoman Alissa Clark said the city is still in the process of reviewing the proposals. No details have been disclosed.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Pam Lucenkiw, Wilma Sotas, Yves Brunel, Marilyn Bowles and Gale Simpson (from left) are members of a group opposed to the sale of city-owned golf courses.

Any plan to sell golf courses would have to be approved by two-thirds of city council.

Save our Seine and another group of concerned citizens is circulating a petition that asks for them to be included in the development process and to ensure the public will still have access to recreational activities in these large green spaces.

Pam Lucenkiw, chairwoman of Outdoor Urban Recreational Spaces, a citizens group opposed to the sale, said golf courses are corridors for wildlife and are used for recreation during the off-season by school and community groups. Lucenkiw has skied on the Windsor Park course in the winter months for more than three decades and said she’s worried access to this and other courses could be lost for future generations.

In October, the city put out an expression of interest to see if anyone wants to purchase or take over the long-term lease of seven city-owned golf courses, including the Canoe Club, Crescent Drive, Harbour View, John Blumberg, Kildonan Park, Tuxedo and Windsor Park golf courses. The move came several months after city auditors discovered the courses have racked up massive debt and suggested Winnipeg sell some of its courses or convert them into parks.

Winnipeg Golf Services is a special operating agency that runs 12 public golf courses and is $8 million in debt.

“We shouldn’t be so quick to sell it off, we should be looking at other uses for the space,” Regier said. “It’s been a pretty closed-door process.”

City officials have said selling some courses will help eliminate debt and possibly generate revenue for the city from property taxes collected from new residential and commercial developments. The city has received 21 proposals since the call for ideas was issued.

One is a request from the Cross-Country Ski Association of Manitoba to retain access to the Windsor Park course, where the non-profit organization runs a ski course with eight kilometres of trails used by about 1,000 season-pass holders.

Clark said in a statement public consultations are not part of the expression-of-interest process, but public hearings will take place if the city considers changes to the current zoning of golf-course land.

David Watson, Save our Seine’s past president, said he understands the city’s budget constraints but thinks officials should have consulted the public before inviting development proposals. He said many golf courses have been public spaces for 100 years.

“It seems that they decided golf courses are surplus, and they never bothered to ask Winnipeggers what they think about that,” Watson said.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

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