Thunder Bay Municipal Golf Course fees to stay put

Golfers using the city's course on Rosslyn Road will be paying full-price when it opens this year.

Bulk of council rejects lowering fees at Municipal Golf Course in Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay city council has decided to keep fees the same at its Municipal Golf Course. Some wanted council to approve lowering fees to attract new golfers to the golf course, which is slated for closure. (iStock)

Golfers using the city's course on Rosslyn Road will be paying full-price when it opens this year.

Thunder Bay City Council rejected proposed fee changes for Municipal Golf Course at its Monday night meeting despite the fact the city's golf advisory committee recommended lowering green fees in an attempt to drive up business.

Supporters said lowering fees could attract enough golfers to save it from closure, but only four of Thunder Bay’s 12 city councillors thought it was a good idea.

"We'll be further subsidizing these courses to compete against local businesses who are — some of them are — struggling," said Coun. Trevor Giertuga, who voted against lowering fees.

"So what happens if we subsidize this more, and one of the courses close?  We lose the tax dollars associated with that course."

Other concerns councillors raised included a lack of evidence the plan would work, and lowering rates at one city-owned course, and not the other two.

Council wants 'to close this course'

Last night's vote didn't sit well with Jules Tupker, who’d been lobbying to keep Municipal open.

"I'm very disappointed. There was an opportunity here to have golfers come back to Municipal, and now that opportunity is lost," he said.

Thunder Bay resident Jules Tupker said he was not surprised by council's decision to keep Municipal Golf Course's fees the same, but said he was disappointed by the move. (CBC)

"A majority of this council wants to close this course, if I could get 5,000 rounds of golf between now and the end of the golfing season, this council would still vote, in the majority, to close this golf course. They have it in their mind that they want to close this course."

Coun. Iain Angus supported lowering fees, saying there is proof the move will bring more people in.

He cited several examples, including when Chippewa Park re-opened in 2003, and the Parks Department charged 25 cents per ride for all rides.

"The equipment was so overwhelmed it took them about two weeks to repair everything, and they said, 'you can never do that again,’" Angus recalled.

"But that was an example of doing it on volume and, by the way, they made a hell of a lot more money that day than they did for most of the summer."

Speaking with CBC News after Monday’s meeting, Coun. Andrew Foulds offered an apology to the people who lobbied to keep the course open.

"If I had the opportunity to speak to them directly, I'd say ‘I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to convince my colleagues that this wasn't a more valuable asset.’"

Coun. Mark Bentz sat on the golf advisory committee — but voted against the fee decrease.

"What we came up with, at the end of the day, wasn't palatable to me," he said.

"I became a member of the committee hoping to look for reducing costs, finding efficiencies. When we exhausted all of that, we turned to reducing fees with the accepted notion that reducing fees will inherently increase volume. I don't believe that's true either."

The course is slated to close at the end of the year, unless another motion is brought before council to save it.