The future of Langara golf course is up for debate after a surprise motion from Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Council was initially set to consider a $3-million upgrade to the course’s drainage system, which was approved by park board commissioners Monday. However, at Wednesday's council meeting, Mayor Gregor Robertson instead introduced a motion directing staff to approach the park board to discuss turning the golf course into a park with sports fields. He also wants the city to look at options to partner with Musqueam First Nation, Langara College, the YMCA and the province for future use of the land.
“As a city, it is important that we think long-term about the future of public green space and how we can make sure our public parks are accessible and meet the needs of all residents,” Robertson said in a news release.
He argued that Langara College is adjacent to 114 acres of public land but has no direct access or sports fields for their teams and that tens of thousands of new people and families will be moving into the neighbourhood as the Cambie Corridor is developed.
“We would like to collaborate with the park board and look at what a win-win solution could look like for the future of the Langara lands, one that could dramatically increase public green space that is free for the public to access.”
NPA Coun. George Affleck introduced a motion to refer the mayor’s proposal to the next council meeting to give the public a chance to have a say on the matter. That was defeated and the mayor’s motion passed with support from Green Coun. Adriane Carr.
“With so many people moving into the Cambie Corridor it makes sense to think about how to expand parks and recreation to meet their needs,” she said in a press release. “I encourage people to get involved in the discussion.”
Affleck was quick to take to social media to criticize the motion.
“Ten years of Vision, and democracy is dead at city hall,” Affleck tweeted Wednesday. “Vision took a simple drainage report and turned it into a monster motion to redevelop Langara Golf Course. No chance for public input. No chance for analysis. No discussion with Park Board. #vanpoli #VisionGreenAlliance.”
And a flurry of tweets ensued.
Ten years of Vision, and democracy is dead at city hall. Vision took a simple drainage report and turned it into a monster motion to redevelop Langara Golf Course. No chance for public input. No chance for analysis. No discussion with Park Board. #vanpoli #VisionGreenAlliance— George Affleck (@george_affleck) March 15, 2018
Council: when you elect a spin doctor, you get spin. On the left is the actual motion in which Council votes to ask Park Board to consider public access to some of Langara Golf Course land and if they will consider, report back to Council with options. The right is...something pic.twitter.com/zsZUm4vhY2— Andrea Reimer 惠綺文 (@andreareimer) March 15, 2018
I believe this move by Vision to try to repurpose park land by hijacking a drainage remediation report is a smokescreen. Vision is not suggesting this to repurpose park space. They are doing it to reappropriate valuable green space for housing. #Langara #Vanparks #vanpoli https://t.co/hOzYYG4qBw— Sarah Kirby-Yung (@sarahkirby_yung) March 15, 2018
Lots of people golf who are not members of private clubs. I am one. Langara is a gem. It helps keep the sport accessible.— Matt Keen (@mdkeen) March 15, 2018
This land use change has been floated before and with higher green space demands coming in the heels of denser neighborhoods, this is inevitable in the long-term. Glad to see this move.— Yatz (@JacintSimon) March 15, 2018
The park board released a statement Thursday morning saying that commissioners were not aware of the mayor’s motion.
“We will need time to meet as a board to discuss the proposal in detail,” said board chair Stuart Mackinnon. “We will be in a position to provide an official response once we’ve convened on this matter.”
Langara Golf Course is one of three full-size public golf courses in the city. It opened on July 11, 1926 and is the oldest public golf course in B.C. The course was reconstructed in 1994 and, according to a park board staff report, a cost-based decision to reuse site soil resulted in significant drainage issues. It is currently known as one of the most unplayable golf courses in the winter months in the Lower Mainland.
The city of Surrey recently approved a controversial proposal for a development on a portion of a private golf course. According to a Surrey Now Leader report, Anthem Properties Group is proposing to turn a portion of the Eaglequest Surrey Coyote Creek golf course into 325 homes, including 60 rental apartments, 46 duplexes and 219 townhomes.