First it was London, then Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. And now the City of Kitchener is the latest to indicate its city-run golf courses are under performing:
The city-owned golf courses are up for review and big changes could be coming to both Rockway and Doon Valley.
“The major options that are under consideration are retain ownership and operation of the courses, lease them out in their entirety or to engage a private-sector partner to manage the operation of the courses,” Dan Chapman, the city’s treasurer, said.
However, one point in the story makes no sense to me. Recently the city decided, unwisely it would appear, to expand its Doon Valley course to 27 holes, running holes across the highway. The story references the expansion:
At the same time costs increased significantly because the Doon Valley Golf Course was increased in size to 27 holes from 18. The expansion loan requires an annual payment of about $340,000 though to 2034. Without that loan payment the golf operations would be in the black.
“The decline in revenue could have been associated with a number of things including economic conditions, declining interest or time to play golf, participant fees being too high, periods of inconsistent weather, perceived value relative to course quality and competitive reasons,” says a staff report prepared by Kim Kugler, the city’s director of enterprise.
Coun. Scott Fielding, who chairs the city’s finance committee, said he does not expect any final decisions to be made for months, since public consultations must be held first.
However, Fielding said Winnipeg cannot afford to keep all seven of its public golf courses, which he said have been losing about $1 million a year recently.
“It’s tough putting more police officers on the street and putting more money toward community centres and infrastructure when you’re losing a million dollars a year on golf courses — which, in my opinion, isn’t a priority for the City of Winnipeg,” he told CBC News.
Fielding said while it’s time to sell some of the city’s golf courses to private developers, he stopped short of suggesting the city should get out of the golf course business altogether.
“I don’t think we’d have the support of council to get rid of all of the courses, but I think we do need to make some changes,” he said. “Bleeding a million dollars a year for golf isn’t sustainable.”