Council strikes down Blumberg sale
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This article was published 28/01/2022 (240 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The fate of the John Blumberg Golf Course has, for now, been decided. On Thurs., Jan. 27, city council voted 13-3 against the sale of the property.
The rejected bid came from Schinkel Properties, a company with developments throughout the province, including Blumberg Trail, which contains 45 lots and sits next to the golf course in the Rural Municipality of Headingley.
While the City of Winnipeg’s public service first recommended council approve the sale, the bid met with opposition every step of the way. The property and development committee voted 3-1 to reject the sale, shortly before the executive policy committee also voted to reject it, this time with a closer tally of 4-3.
Several councillors mentioned the possibility of the golf course being transformed into public greenspace in the future and its current winter uses, such as cross-country skiing, as reasons to oppose the sale. Several councillors also said the bid was too low and the project would create too much sprawl.
Schinkel Properties bid $13.7 million to buy John Blumberg Golf Course with the intention of developing the land. The company’s proposed site plan included 339 single-family lots, 327 multi-family units, 13 acres of commercial space, 36 acres of non-continuous parks and 13,000 feet of walking trails that would be available to the public.
The proposal met with strong opposition from greenspace advocates, such as Outdoor Recreational Spaces Winnipeg. In a press release issued hours before the council voted, the organization denounced the potential sale as shortsighted and a long-term loss of greenspace for the city and surrounding areas.
“…the revenue of $13,680,000 from the sale of 200 acres of Blumberg would provide nowhere near enough purchasing power for even a small amount of greenspace and natural riverside area within the city,” the organization said.
Alan Klippenstein, director of real estate development at Schinkel Properties, said he believes the concerns over greenspace are overstated, because as it is, people must pay to golf on the land, making it less accessible to the public. He said the greenspace in his company’s site plan would actually increase greenspace that’s accessible for free.
Headingley mayor John Mauseth, however, said there must be a longer-term perspective taken for the land.
“We did put in our own proposal,” he said, referring to a bid put in by his municipality, “and our focus was on greenspace and retaining it for the long term, whether it’s a golf course or not, retaining that green space not only for residents of Headingley, but also Winnipeg.”
The majority of the sale, 90 per cent, would’ve gone into a “transformative fund,” which was intended reinvests profits from the sale of lands deemed surplus and re-purposed golf courses into recreation, public green space and the tree canopy.
The creation of the transformative fund, first proposed in 2020, was on the docket just before the sale of the John Blumberg Golf Course, and it was approved in a 10-5 vote (Coun. Matt Allard was temporarily absent).
City of Winnipeg manager of real estate and land development Marc Pittet said, at the property and development committee meeting earlier in the month, the net cost to taxpayers to maintain the site was just over $18,000 in 2021.
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 204-697-7206.