Calgary-owned golf courses losing millions has council considering alternatives

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Calgarians paying for golf course losses: taxpayer group
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says some Calgary-owned golf courses are losing money and that the city should get out of the golf course business – May 15, 2018

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the City of Calgary to “get out of the golf business” after the organization obtained revenue and expenditure figures that show $2 million in losses over a three year period.

Colin Craig, the organization’s Alberta director, obtained the figures through a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request.

According to the city documents, the six city-owned courses lost a combined $710,516 in 2017, $884,777 in 2016 and $435,147 in 2015.

That equates to $2,030,440 in net losses from 2015 to 2017.

A document depicts revenues and expenditures from six city-owned golf courses in Calgary. Canadian Taxpayers Federation

The only course that has consistently posted profits is Shaganappi Point Golf Course, which earned $470,821 in 2017, $426,629 in 2016 and $261,336 in 2015.

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“How does it make sense to ask a struggling household or business to pay more in property taxes each year while the city subsidizes people to golf?” Craig said.

“Continuing to run these courses, it’s just not right, taxpayers shouldn’t have to front the risk to subsidize these courses. The city should get out of the golf course business altogether,” he said.

READ MORE: City staff recommend against redeveloping McCall Lake Golf Course

Councillor Jeromy Farkas said the city should not be involved in business ventures that are regularly in the red and suggested turning to the private sector as an alternative.

“I’m not in favour of selling off the golf courses as some have advocated for. I think we should be moving to a private operation model,” Farkas said. “Let’s see if people in the private sector can operate them more cost-effectively,”

“Alternatively, if there’s somewhere where there’s just not a strong business case, let’s see how maybe we can repurpose them as parks or green spaces that Calgarians can continue to enjoy even if not as a golf course,” he said.

Farkas added that a review of the city golf course operating model is underway and that more information will be presented to council next month.

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