2012-04-30 at 21:48
Council ends golf debate by voting to close Municipal
FILE -- A golfer takes a swing at the Municipal Golf Course.
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City council has voted to close the Municipal Golf Course by the end of the season.
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Council voted 8-3 in favour of closing the Municipal Golf Course at the general meeting on Monday. Only councillors Andrew Foulds, Joe Virdiramo and Iain Angus voted to keep the golf course open.
Current River Coun. Foulds said the discussion has always been about recreation, quality of life and what the municipality provides for residents.
“For me this issue is more than just golf it is a serious issue,” Foulds said prior to the vote. “I am very concerned about it and future of this municipality.”
At-Large Coun. Rebecca Johnson said she was prepared to close all three municipal run golf courses and even prepared a motion for council to vote on. She decided to wait for another time before pushing the matter further.
Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs pointed out that there has been a decline in people playing golf all across North America.
McIntyre Ward Coun. Trevor Giertuga said they would save $4 million over 20 years and $8 million over 40 years with the course closed.
“We have to be careful how we present things because they all add up,” Giertuga said. “I don’t like how we break things up and say things are going to cost five cents a day to run this or three cents. Our taxes keep going up. It all adds up.”
Concerned residents didnt make the decision any easier as they gave deputations on why council should keep the golf courses.
CUPE Local 87 president Marie Dean told council that any closure or selling of city owned golf courses would likely result in the total abandonment of golf in the city within two years. Despite cutbacks over the years, the city has managed to keep golf active in the community, she said.
“CUPE knows that the loss of any of the three courses will have a negative, not positive outcome for recreational golf in this community,” Dean said. “CUPE is respectfully suggesting that you keep all the municipal golf courses open.”
Dean suggested council set up a committee made up of councillors, city administration, CUPE members and golfers to find ways to enhance operations and make all three courses fiscal viable.
Dean criticized council on the amount of money being spent on the waterfront project as well as the dollar amount proposed for the event centre. She asked how council could approve of those dollar figures but not allow less than $100,000 to subsidizing the golf course.
Jules Tupker, a former union president now retired, said he came as a golfer and echoed Dean’s comments on why the city shouldn’t close the municipal course.
He said he plays at all three golf courses but enjoys the municipal the most. He said city council isn’t in the business to make money but to provide services to residents.
“I am not an economic wizard but I do know that if making operation changes including increasing membership fees are resulting in a loss of memberships than perhaps I should be reassessing the changes,” Tupker said. “Divesting yourself of municipal golf course is wrong for so many reasons and I would respectfully suggest that you keep all three city run golf courses open.”
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