Manitoba

Council votes against selling John Blumberg Golf Course, in favour of repealing escort, body rub licences

The John Blumberg Golf Course will remain the City of Winnipeg's property, much to the dismay of Mayor Brian Bowman, after council voted 13-3 against the sale of the land, declared surplus in 2013.

On Thursday, council voted 13-3 against the sale of the land that was declared surplus in 2013

City council decided Thursday not to sell the John Blumberg Golf Course. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

The John Blumberg Golf Course will remain the City of Winnipeg's property, much to the mayor's dismay.

On Thursday, Winnipeg city council voted 13-3 against the sale of the land that's been declared surplus since 2013.

Mayor Brian Bowman told reporters before the vote that he was in favour of the sale, but he didn't expect it to be approved, based on recent committee votes.

Bowman said part of the reason he supported the sale was to remain consistent with the message previous city councils had sent for almost 10 years — that the land should be sold.

"But in fairness to my colleagues, who I may differ with on this particular vote, it has always been open and transparent that ultimately council does get to decide," said Bowman.

In 2013, the city explored the possibility of selling off a total of 13 city-owned courses, but council only approved the eventual disposal of Blumberg.

The plan to sell the property in Headingley for $13.7 million seemed to be going ahead, until a committee meeting earlier this month.

During council's discussion Thursday, several councillors said concerns about a lack of green space in Winnipeg factored into their decision.

Property and development committee chair Cindy Gilroy said she 'couldn't fathom' selling potential green space. (Travis Golby CBC)

Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West) said the COVID-19 pandemic has made many re-evaluate the value of greenspace, while Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), who initially supported the sale, said he had a "change of heart" about trying to preserve what green space Winnipeg still has.

Coun. Cindy Gilroy, who chairs the property committee, agreed.

"I really couldn't fathom in my mind selling potential green space, whether it's a golf course or anything else, at this moment, when we're trying to increase the green space that we do have," said Gilroy, who voted against the sale at a property committee meeting earlier this month.

Schinkel Properties, the company that won the city's request for proposals to purchase the property, argued during delegations that the golf course isn't public green space, and that their plan included 34 acres (about 14 hectares) of usable space with public a walking path.

"We're not talking about selling a park. We're selling a golf course," said Alan Klippenstein, director of real estate development for Schinkel Properties.

"We should also make note that adjacent to that is 70 acres of green space. It's the ball diamonds, it's the park. That is not part of this sale."

Schinkel Properties president Bob Schinkel, left, and Alan Klippenstein, the company's director of real estate development, present to city council on Thursday. (Sam Samson/CBC)

Bowman agreed, saying the money from the sale could have been used to help protect Winnipeg's tree canopy.

When asked how he thinks council's decision to halt the proposed sale will reflect on his city's ability to do business, Bowman said he respects the will of council, expressed through "a good process."

"As far as I'm concerned, I want to be consistent for those that would look at those RFPs and be able to rely on them," said Bowman. 

"But it is clearly acknowledged in the process that ultimately, council does have that decision, and I do need to acknowledge that, and I respect that council will ultimately have the say."

The sale of the property needed two-thirds approval from council, but only Couns. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) and Scott Gillingham (St. James) sided with Mayor Bowman on selling the land.

Vote to repeal adult-oriented business licences

Council also voted on Thursday to repeal licences for adult-oriented businesses.

Last week, a motion appeared before the executive policy committee recommending the city repeal the licences for businesses such as escort agencies and body rub practitioners.

Fourteen of council's 16 members voted in favour of the motion.

Couns. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) and Shawn Nason (Transcona) were absent at the time of the vote.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Samson

Journalist

Sam Samson is a multimedia journalist who has worked for CBC in Manitoba and Ontario as a reporter and associate producer. Before working for CBC, she studied journalism and communications in Winnipeg. You can get in touch on Twitter @CBCSamSamson or email samantha.samson@cbc.ca.

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