Calgary city council’s Priorities and Finance Committee wants to stop any discussion about the potential redevelopment of Shaganappi Point Golf Course.
A recommendation that went to the committee on Tuesday asked that the next step of real estate analysis proceed for two of the city’s golf courses: Richmond Green, which has already been closed, and Shaganappi.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” said Councillor Evan Woolley, who told committee members that Shaganappi is the most profitable golf course operated by the city and it subsidizes other golf courses.
“When we have the Westbrook area, where the C-Train is and is undeveloped, we have Jacques Lodge, we have Richmond golf course, which we have closed down — why don’t we look at those first before knee-capping the goose that lays the golden egg of our golf courses?”
Woolley admits he’s been opposed from the start to the whole idea of contracting out city golf course operations and can’t believe council would move forward when the cost to hire consultants to do the work would be more than $2 million.
“More than $2 million to undertake this work in a golf course system that is actually subsidized in and around the $500,000 range and in a system that is working itself to financial sustainability.”
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Right now, the city is spending $700,000 a year to subsidize golf course operations but wants to get that to zero by 2022.
Councillors were told the closing of the Richmond Green course will save $150,000 a year.
Administration was recommending the hiring of a consultant who would set up a process to evaluate the applications from interested parties who would want to run the golf courses. The request for proposals would not go out until the third quarter of 2021.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that was far too long.
“Can’t we test the market much quicker, much easier and much cheaper than that? Here’s the operating costs, here are what we believe in — that you have to have reasonable fees that have to be less than private sector operators, you have to pay your employees a decent wage.”
Nenshi wants to see if there’s anyone who would even want to bid and he says his sense is there isn’t.
The issue goes to the full city council on March 16.