As you may be aware, the golf course decision came before city council on December 17. This represents the culmination of a long RFP process, and an even longer process to get to a direction on the golf course management structure.
Supporting this decision was one I did not take lightly. In moving forward we made a change in the operations of the course. The City of Brandon retains ownership of the course, but the operations of the course are to be handled by Brandon Golf Inc. Residents of the city may recognize Brandon Golf Inc. as the company that currently operates Northern Pines Golf Course in the city.
There were a number of factors that led to this decision. The current operations of the golf course created a net loss year-over-year for the city. I realize that recreation isn’t solely based on return on investment (nor should it be), but we should be in a position that the council entrusted by the public to govern the city makes sound decisions that are in the best interests of the community as a whole, and wherever possible find ways to minimize costs while maximizing the opportunity for our residents. I think this did present an opportunity to do so. We are able to keep the asset publicly owned, but privately managed without hurting our current staffing compliment.
Admittedly, many felt the Wheat City had reached the height of its abilities as a public course. It had been challenged over the last number of years by the ravages of flooding, and some of the other public policy constraints at times made the environment less than ideal.
My reasoning for the decision ultimately came down to this. When getting involved in this process I was elected to represent the opinions and wants of the constituents of the University ward. In soliciting feedback from the residents that brought me to this role, many indicated this was the route they would like to go on the golf course. Second, it was the assurance that the City of Brandon administration gave regarding the protection of jobs as a result of this change. Staff are hired as employees of the City of Brandon, so the city platoons them to the area of greatest need. From an operations standpoint, the greatest need is slightly different now, but the work still exists. I realize this may have some residents feeling they didn’t agree with the decision and I understand that. At the end of the day, I feel we made the best decision for the residents of our great city and I will continue to use that judgement as a guide for how I approach the role.
As an aside, the link here is a column I penned for the Brandon Sun in 2014 on this issue. I’m happy to share that my take today is quite similar to what it was at that time.