Victory against contracting out of Winnipeg’s public golf courses

Victory against contracting out of Winnipeg’s public golf courses

Following months of ground work, lobbying, research, and a strong public relations campaign, CUPE Local 500 is proud to announce a victory in the ongoing Winnipeg anti-privatization campaign.

On May 29, Winnipeg City council voted 8-7 against a proposal led by Mayor Sam Katz to contract out management of Winnipeg’s public golf courses to a private company. The proposal, which was spearheaded through the City’s Alternate Service Delivery (ASD) Committee, chaired by the Deputy Mayor Russ Wyatt, was another move to contract out a public service and community asset.

“We are very pleased that council voted to stop the lease proposal” said Mike Davidson, president of CUPE Local 500, “We want to thank all the community groups and delegations who spoke in opposition of the lease proposal. This is a victory for all citizens of Winnipeg”.

In October 2011, CUPE Local 500 began it’s anti-privatization campaign against the City’s plan to sell off the City’s golf courses. The Local then launched it’s anti-privatization video entitled “Our Winnipeg” in June, 2012 and the “For Sale” video in October, 2012, referencing a number of controversies surrounding the Mayor’s pro-P3 agenda. In March 2013, the Local again launched a video entitled “No Bargain”, highlighting the fact that privatization means higher costs, service cuts, and no accountability.

While the proposal to contract out Winnipeg’s public golf courses was criticized by CUPE and the community for inflating perceived losses, the campaign culminated in the Mayor’s office being “backed into a corner” and releasing a $70,000 ad campaign intended to deceive Winnipeggers and lobby undecided councilors to vote the Mayor’s way. The Mayor’s campaign was exposed by local media, and was called “unethical” and a “disgrace” by many city councillors, in particular for masquerading as a “community group” while actually being a City initiative.

Over the past two years, CUPE Local 500 worked with community and labour organizations such as Outdoor Urban Recreation Spaces (OURS), the Winnipeg Labour Council, Manitoba Federation of Labour, and other groups to lobby City Council and inform the public on the detrimental effects of privatization of the golf courses.

The council vote required 2/3 majority to pass the contracting out of public golf services, and was ultimately defeated after 8 hours of debate and presentations.

CUPE Local 500 is proud that union members, community activists, and allies worked together to fight the Mayor and Deputy Mayor’s pro-privatization agenda, and are excited to work together with City Council to re-build our public golf courses into strong, efficient, and wholly public community recreation facilities.

Additionally, City Council voted 9-6 in favour of declaring John Blumberg golf course as surplus land, vowing to re-invest any revenue into existing municipal recreation services.

Delegations who spoke alongside CUPE Local 500 President Mike Davidson included Dave Sauer, President of the Winnipeg Labour Council, Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, representatives from OURS Winnipeg, and members of the community.

CUPE Local 500 represents approximately 5,000 municipal employees in Winnipeg, including members working at Winnipeg’s public golf courses.