The Prince Rupert City Council will be looking into the possibility of selling the Prince Rupert Golf Course back into private ownership.
The idea was proposed by Mayor Jack Mussallem during Monday’s council meeting not only as a way to save taxpayers’ money, but also to help pay for land for a new emergency services building.
“We own the land there. If we can get money for the land and the improvements and get it on the tax roll, we can take that money and use it for the development of an emergency services building. Because in all likelihood we’re going to have to buy some land, and this will make it easier on the tax payers,” says Mussallem.
The city had examined the option of using the municipal tennis courts and Moose Tot Lot properties as a location for the new emergency buildings because it owns them, but that was met with a public backlash to the idea.
Regulations allow for money from the sale of City land to be used to purchase new property. Mussallem’s believes that the sale of the golf course could possibly pay for a new location for the RCMP building, which has a government deadline looming.
The fire hall would be left to be funded by money approved in a borrowing bylaw referendum.
The golf course is one of the “Big Six”; which are all large city-owned properties that are permanently exempt from paying property taxes. Other members of the Big Six include the library, the Digby Ferry docks and the museum.
If the golf course could be sold back into the private sector, it could be put back on the roll and it would make the City an extra $22,000 a year. The City would also no longer be responsible for paying the golf course staff whose salary are in excess of $75,000 a year, or buying new equipment, which has cost $40,000 this year.
“Golf is a popular game. If someone took it over and made it into a business it would reduce our annual subsidy, in fact, it would eradicate it. Further, if someone took it over, they could inject some cash into it, improve it and attract even more people here,” said Mussallem.
The mayor also said that his suggestion was not a criticism of the Prince Rupert Golf Society, which runs the golf course for the city, but is a matter of practicality.
Councilors seemed quite open to examining the idea, but no motion was taken on the idea, so when, or if, the council will discuss it is unknown.