Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Crescent Drive Affair

You should know that I make some tremendous sacrifices for you readers. Tonight for example I attended a community gathering hosted by OURS-Winnipeg co-chair Ron Mazur and Councillor Jenny Gerbasi regarding the future of the Crescent Drive Golf Course. And "Park" ... apparently.

Let me set the stage: There were no free cookies. The small meeting room at CanadInns south was packed with about 140 people, somewhat resembling a community gathering on The Simpsons. Person A: "It's like the City is setting the golf course up to fail." The rest of the room, all together: "Yup" "Setting up to fail" "She's right, it's a set up" "That's for sure". The median age was 60-70 years old and the general sentiment in the room was that Jenny Gerbasi was too pro-development.

During the meeting, Jenny took a lot of heat for voting for a nordic spa development on the site of the struggling golf course clubhouse and parking lot. The residents of the area were quite peeved that they were not consulted on the spa development ahead of time and therefore were not able to exercise their veto over such development matters, as enshrined in the unwritten Constitution Act of -insert person's name-'s Brain.


Ron Mazur was co-hosting as part of a new golf course-specific group called Crescent Park Rescue, in response to the City's request for expressions of interest in developing certain money-losing golf courses. If you haven't picked up on it yet, "park" and "golf course" were used interchangeably throughout the night. As far as I know Crescent Park is not in jeopardy and does not need to be rescued. In fact, at the meeting, Jenny announced that she will be putting forth a motion to pump $1 million into the park for repairs, and that Sam Katz was open to the idea.

Both Jenny and Ron mentioned that the vote of 2/3 of council is required to sell park land, and they were counting on certain votes to save this golf course. What they didn't seem to realize is that a golf course is not a park. I checked the City of Winnipeg web site just to make sure that the definition of a park is not "if it's green and doesn't have houses on it ..."  Sure enough, the definition is more traditional:
Park: Land that is privately or publicly held that has been developed for multiple recreational and leisure-time uses. This land benefits the entire community and balances the demands of the public for outdoor recreational facilities and other amenities, such as pathways, plazas, picnic areas, playgrounds, water features, spaces for free play and leisure.
A golf course does not fit this description at all. It is a single purpose development that does not have spaces for picnics and certainly not "free play"; although you may find water features. I asked Ron Mazur if he had checked the city's definition of "Park" and he had not. Somehow it was just assumed ...

Again, I want to point out that there were NO FREE COOKIES.

There was one guy wearing a Skeleton Canada t-shirt who attempted to be a voice of reason, and even dared to suggest that possibly one or two courses might need to be sold as an alternative to increasing taxes, but that did not go over well. (If you're reading this, Skeleton Canada guy, send me an email.)

There was a promise by Ron to keep fighting to save the park or golf course or whatever, and pleas from Jenny for people to show their support for her, and her lonely fight against the establishment at city hall. Other updates: apparently the nordic spa developer has applied for a development permit, which is good because the old clubhouse has already been torn down; and the golf course is in terrible condition.

Since the nordic spa developer is leveraging the golf course for it's business, I wonder if they bothered to respond to the city's call for expressions of interest in the golf course, to protect their .. you know .. interest? They do have a right of first refusal on the land, or something to that effect, but I'm not sure on the details of how that works. I did not get a chance to ask.

Almost two hours in and it was still dragging on. I had to leave. Next time I'm calling in advance to see if there will be cookies.

7 comments:

bwalzer said...

These sorts of civic meetings are not really meetings as most people understand them. They are really just a venue for an indoor protest rally. The three hours of "rabble, rabble, rabble" is entirely appropriate here.

People interested in actual discussion usually stay away from such get togethers. I admire your sacrifice.

Perhaps such things are obsolete. Maybe we should just set up a web forum, let everyone flame each other for a couple of weeks and then have an intern sift through the wreckage for any actual ideas...

Anonymous said...

To give you an example of how well-used & popular this Park/Golf Course is... I am a 43 yr old man & have lived in The Peg most of my life. I even drove a cab for about a year to make ends meet; So I know this city better than most. Here's the point: I've never frickin' heard of that place in my life! Call Impark! 'Doze it!

cherenkov said...

bw: Good point. I'm not sure what I expected (besides cookies of course).

anon: the people in the area are very protective of their little amenity. Crescent Drive is one of two 9-hole par 3 courses in city limits -- Harbour View being the other (and better) one.

Vanessa said...

I can't believe there weren't cookies. What a crock.

cherenkov said...

I know, right?

mrchristian said...

I love anon's sentiment, that sadly is quite pervasive, "I ain't never heard of it so shut it down !"

Anonymous said...

The golf course is not the same thing as the park ... but if the golf course is given to developers, it will significantly change (ruin) the character of the park. I don't golf and don't care about Crescent Drive Gold Course, but definitely want to see the space remain green and open to the public. Maybe the city should attract a waterpark to it ? But please no residences...

 
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