Cost-smart care of civic golf courses favoured

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WINNIPEG will not save money by outsourcing golf course operations, as half of all employees are paid a student wage, union officials say.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/07/2012 (3807 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WINNIPEG will not save money by outsourcing golf course operations, as half of all employees are paid a student wage, union officials say.

Council’s alternate service delivery committee voted Friday in favour of “managed competition” to stop financial losses at the Kildonan Park, Windsor Park, Crescent Drive and Harbour View golf courses.

The committee unanimously voted to look at the cost of operating the courses under public or private agreements and work with city unions to see if they can provide services for less money than cost estimates submitted by the private sector.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES A city hall committee wants cost comparisons on civic golf course operations.

Alternate service delivery chairman Coun. Scott Fielding said the Winnipeg Golf Services Agency cannot continue to lose $1 million a year, and the city needs to measure whether there are more efficient ways to deliver the service.

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500 president Mike Davidson said half the 50 golf services employees are students who make $11.90 an hour, and doesn’t see how Winnipeg will save money by contracting out golf operations to private companies. Davidson suspects the city is trying to divest itself of public golf courses, even though most residents want them to remain public entities.

“The real issue here is to eventually not be in the golf business,” Davidson said.

Fielding said Winnipeg is not looking at redeveloping or selling any of the publicly owned golf courses and will only look at lease agreements in the short term.

City property director Barry Thorgrimson said officials will now assess the golf courses to see if the city has deferred maintenance and flag any deficiencies. He said officials will review the lease proposals with contractors and union officials and make recommendations on how to proceed by late fall or early winter.

The recommendations will have to be approved by city council.

Last fall, the city called for expressions of interest to see if anyone wanted to purchase or take over the long-term leases of the Canoe Club, Crescent Drive, Harbour View, John Blumberg, Kildonan Park, Tuxedo, or Windsor Park golf courses.

The expression of interest call came after city auditors found the courses racked up large debts, and suggested Winnipeg sell some of them or convert them into parks.

Council’s alternate service delivery committee also approved on Friday a call to increase the Winnipeg Golf Services’ line of credit by $500,000, bringing it to a total of $6.5 million. Winnipeg Golf Services is projected to lose $835,342 in 2012 — slightly less than the $1 million it lost last year.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

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