Green space advocates signed a winning scorecard Thursday on the John Blumberg Golf Course.
Winnipeg council voted 13-3 to reject a proposed $13.7-million sale of the 200-acre city-owned course in the Rural Municipality of Headingley.
The sale of this asset (would) turn that golf course into a residential development, reducing our green space. This is not the way to go… Any time that you get green grass, the opportunity to walk and enjoy nature, I think, is a beautiful thing, Coun. Markus Chambers said prior to the vote.
Mayor Brian Bowman joined Couns. Scott Gillingham and Jeff Browaty to support the sale, while the rest of council opposed it.
The decision came after several Winnipeggers pressured councillors to keep the site intact.
These green spaces belong to all of us Winnipeggers, paid for by our taxpayer dollars over the years… Once this land has been developed, theres no going back, Muriel St. John, a volunteer with Outdoor Urban Recreational Spaces Winnipeg, told council.
Schinkel Properties had proposed to buy the land (minus the existing soccer and softball complexes) and replace it with 339 single-family lots, 13 acres of commercial land, 29 acres of multi-family property and 36 acres of parkland over the next decade.
The company urged council to approve the sale, noting the development would include a large park that, unlike the golf course, could be accessed by Winnipeggers for free.
(This) could be used by residents year-round at no cost to the taxpayer… replacing an asset thats underutilized outside the city limits, out of the reach of many (with) something better that more people can enjoy, said president Bob Schinkel.
Before the vote, the mayor questioned claims the golf course, in its current form, should be deemed a naturalized green space.
It just isnt… If that was a concern, quite frankly, it should have been identified when we put out the (request for proposals) by council and it wasnt, said Bowman.
The golf course proposal was just one of the hotly debated matters city council cast final votes on Thursday.
Council also cast a 14-0 vote (with Couns. Shawn Nason and Ross Eadie absent at the time) to stop licensing body rub parlours and escort agencies.
Advocates linked those adult businesses to human trafficking and exploitation, alleging the city was acting like a pimp by profiting off the industry through licence fees.
Diane Redsky, executive director of the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, and Joy Smith, founder of the Joy Smith Foundation, had said women and girls they support have been exploited in such jobs.
By contrast, sex workers told council that, while they dont want the city to licence them, they fear the change is being taken as a first step toward shutting down their businesses.
This is considered as providing some kind of rescue or support to people in sex work but, in reality, this is taking workers livelihoods away and creating an environment of fear, Amy, a member of the Sex Workers of Winnipeg Action Coalition, told council Thursday.
She did not provide her full name.
City officials have confirmed the end of licensing does not mean the businesses must shut down.
Prior to the vote, Bowman said repealing the licensing would be a progressive and historic step.
When you have two strong community leaders, such as Diane Redsky and Joy Smith, coming and supporting something like that, its worthy of support, he said.
In an emailed statement, Smith applauded councils decision: (This) leadership will help end the victimization of trafficked victims and is an example for other municipalities to follow.
Council also cast a 10-6 vote to approve a four-storey, eight-unit condo project at 514 Wellington Cres., with Couns. Chambers, Eadie, Brian Mayes, John Orlikow and Sherri Rollins opposed.
A group of community members had long rallied against the project, arguing it would clash with the character of the neighbourhood.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.