On Saturday, October 6th, the Public Service Alliance of Canada joined with the community of Ingonish to hold a community gathering and BBQ. This event was aimed at stopping the privatization of the Highlands Links Golf Course. This group was also joined by Mark Eyking a local Member of Parliament and various local Councilors from the area and beyond. Approximately 200 people from all around the area gathered at the Ingonish Fire Hall to send a message to Ottawa that privatization is not welcomed in their community.
“Highlands Links belongs to all of us. Let’s keep it public. Let’s keep it accessible. Let’s keep it Canadian. It’s our game,” said Jeannie Baldwin, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President.
Parks Canada recently issued an RFP that seeks to put the management of Highlands Links, a world-famous golf course, into private hands. Currently, the course is a public resource that employs 22 full time workers, as well as a number of term and student workers. The facility provides millions of dollars worth of economic benefits to the surrounding community.
Eddie Kennedy, the Vice-President of the Union of National Employees said “There are clear dangers in privatizing; It often ends up costing tax-payers millions of dollars more than if facilities had remained in public hands.”
The union and the community are also concerned that privatization will eliminate opportunities for young people to have a career in their own home town. Then there is the question of access. The course stands to become a too expensive for the average person to use. The union also believes the very quality of the Highlands Links course could deteriorate under private ownership.
Community members, golf course workers and the unions that represent them are fighting to keep Highlands Links public. Saturday’s event was the official kick off of this campaign. Lawn signs, flyers and posters spread throughout the direct the public to an online petition that will be presented in parliament.