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Columns: Ledgeview Part 2 – Reaction to Council Comments
By Vince Dimanno. If you read my first column on the Ledgeview funding decision, you should know that I wrote my thoughts before City Council’s comments were published. Ledgeview is far more important than the $115,000 taxpayers will give them. Click to read why this small decision is so important.
Ledgeview is a perfect example of just how poorly equipped our Councillors are to handle any financial challenge facing Abbotsford. So is the money we are giving Ledgeview Golf Course a lot? No.
In fact, you probably don’t know that the Reach Art Gallery and Museum is given more than $600,000 each year to cover it’s losses. I bet you didn’t even know that when you voted for Plan A, you were also voting to give the Reach $500,000 per year, every year.
That’s more than $1.2 million in its first 2 years of operations and that is more than we gave the Abbotsford Heat in the same period of time.
So, if the money going to Ledgeview is so trivial, why do I care so much?
Well, if our City Council can’t solve the small problems, how are they going to solve the big ones.
Of particular concern is when Councillors make comments like:
“…it is a core service…”
“…funding goes into an asset…”
“…if the city were running the course, it could not do a better job…”
We have the highest unemployment rate in the country, nearly the lowest median house hold income, among the worst roads in BC, one of the worst transit systems…and on and on…and you think a golf course is a “core service”. I’m speechless, but it is comments that like this that make people feel the members are affluent. Only an affluent person would call golf a core service.
I hate to also break out the grade 5 math, but when your “asset” loses money, it is now a “liability”. Nothing has value until you sell it. Until then, if it loses money, it is a liability.
The final comment above was from our City Manager. It’s depressing to see that statement. He doesn’t even want the City to try managing it. OK…I can understand that…no experience or expertise then don’t do it. Shame we didn’t use this reasoning on some other projects.
But…to then see the President of Ledgeview, shortly after being told that taxpayers were going to give him money for nothing… and he can only say “We’re seriously considering handing them (the City) the keys.”
Not…”thank you and we’ll try our best.”
Not…”we’re sorry but we have a plan to turn it around.”
How confident are you that he is going to enthusiastically try and turn things around at the course over the next 3 years? I know I’m not.
The true near-sightedness of all these people is appalling. You see, you probably think I’m one of those guys that thinks we should sell Ledgeview. I’m not. I do think it is an asset. I also think that it can be profitable. But you have to make those things happen…you can’t just say it is so.
But if we can’t run it, as the City Manager claims, and the non-profit in charge of it can’t be successful, why is our first thought to make taxpayers pay for it? Why don’t we get a real expert??
How about Club Link? They own 53 courses and they make a great profit. How about Eagle Quest…they operate profitable courses all over BC and do well.
In December of 2010, Club Link purchased the Glendale Golf Course in Hamilton and then proceeded to invest $1.5 million in capital upgrades over the next 3 years.
That is what I mean when I say “sell the course”.
To see how good private operators are, click here to view the Club Link Enterprises Annual Report.
So a final word…
Kudos to the Councillors who voted against this taxpayer gift. Kudos to Councillor Braun for saying what needed to be said…yes, “…we need to say no…”
But I have a word of advice.
If you want Ledgeview to perform…and you want the Reach to perform…don’t wait until Budget time. Resolve, right now, at the Council table, to not issue funds next year.
Tell the Reach, you only get your $500,000 next year and not a penny more. Govern yourself accordingly.
Tell Ledgeview, you get no money next year.
Tell them now…so they can plan…instead, if you wait until after they have lost money, there is only one solution and that is to bail them out.
So, be proactive…cut off the funds now and let them figure out, on their own, how to make the money work. If they can’t, I’ve given you one solution above. There is a solution for all the financial anchors in this city, but if all you will do is wait until the last minute, then the only solution you will have left is the taxpayer solution.
1 in 10 of us is out of work and those of us that do work make an average of $5000 per year less than everyone else in the country. We can’t afford to pay for anyone’s golf game with our property taxes…and we shouldn’t have to.