FIRST POSTED: SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2014 06:20 PM CDT | UPDATED: SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2014 06:30 PM CDT
Ron Mazur of Outdoor Urban Recreation Spaces is pictured at Crescent Drive Golf Course on Sun., July 27, 2014. Mazur is working to protect city-owned golf courses from those who would sell them off to help pay for infrastructure improvements. Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun/QMI Agency
The local committee that started a drive to save some of Winnipeg's golf courses three years ago plans to take swings at any mayoral candidate who wants to sell them if elected this fall.
Ron Mazur, co-chair of Outdoor Urban Recreation Spaces (OURS) Winnipeg, responded to the announcement by candidate Gord Steves that he would peddle four public golf courses to developers and use the estimated $100,000 revenue to fix our roads.
"It's a hare-brained idea," Mazur said Sunday. "It's like selling your furniture to buy gas for your car."
Steeves would reportedly sell the Kildonan Park, Windsor Park, John Blumberg and Crescent Drive courses.
OURS-Winnipeg started a petition to protest the idea of either selling or leasing city-owned courses when Mayor Sam Katz first proposed doing so three years ago, and about 8,500 people signed it.
"I'm not sure if we're going to start another petition, but we want those 8,500 to get involved in the active campaigns and tell the candidates that we want to keep the public golf courses (as) public golf courses," Mazur said. "These courses are under pressure but we want to keep those greenspaces.
"These are the jewels of the city and if we lose them to residential developers, that greenspace would be lost forever. Windsor Park has an elaborate cross-country skiing setup in the winter time. Other courses are also used for skiing and snowshoeing and dog parks during the winter."
Mazur and his co-chairs, Wilma Sotas and Pam Lucenkiw, plan to interview each mayoral candidate and will publicize the respective opinions on the Steeves proposal. They will support those who want to keep the public courses.
"There's a real value in publicly-accessible golf courses for ordinary Winnipeggers, and those who cannot afford to play on private golf courses," said Mazur, who does not golf himself. "What Steeves is proposing will affect the public negatively."
Besides, the golf courses can at least break even, Mazur said.
"If they are properly managed, they can break even and even make money," said Mazur, adding that their finances are being adjusted to be similar to city-run swimming pools.
"This city has been badly managed," said Mazur, who works as a consultant. "There are other ways to raise revenues ... We're not against development but there are vast areas of public surface parking lots downtown that can and should be developed.
"Selling golf courses is just a quick, easy solution ... Winnipeg does not need a Katz clone as mayor."