Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver want to redevelop the public Langara Golf Course into a public park.
The plan is still in its early stages, with the passage of a Vision-backed motion calling on the city to work with the Vancouver park board on “options and financial analysis for transitioning the Langara golf course lands into a public park with restored wetlands and ecosystems, trail network, sports fields and a track and field facility that adheres to international competition standards.”
“Council approved motion to ask @ParkBoard to consider transitioning some of Langara Golf Course into public park, natural ecosystem and sports fields,” said Robertson said in a tweet. “Win-win opportunity to open up more green (and free) space to all residents.”
NPA councillor George Affleck took to Twitter to voice his displeasure.
“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.”
But staff analysis is continuing and so far, the motion is only to begin talks with the park board. At the park board, the plan is sure to face opposition.
“I believe this move by Vision to try to repurpose park land by hijacking a drainage remediation report is a smokescreen,” said Vancouver park board commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung, also with NPA. “Vision is not suggesting this to repurpose park space. They are doing it to reappropriate valuable green space for housing,” she charged.
Last fall, the city of Vancouver began a review of all parks and recreation facilities. The plan, Vancouver’s first such assessment in 25 years was to include a review of the three public golf courses on the city’s south side — Langara, Fraserview and McCleery.
The city already had plans to provide more public access at Langara. But those plans have clearly expanded since then, adding fuel to a heated debate that last raged six years ago.
In 2012, the city floated the possibility of converting all or part of Langara Golf Course into a park or a housing development. It was met with heavy opposition.
Malcolm Ashford, then a park board commissioner, was vocally opposed to the idea. He said it was a lazy way to create park space, adding that he would lead the charge to stop it, and galvanize many other former park board commissioners to do so as well.
This position was echoed by John Coupar, the only current commissioner who was also serving the last time the idea came up.
“Our golf courses are not just golf courses,” he said in 2012. “They’re natural environments that are used by a lot of the community. So people are very protective of that space.”
Since then, however, the cost of land in Vancouver has skyrocketed, as has the need for affordable housing, forcing the city to get more creative with their use of space. And, with golf course use stagnant in the region, it’s no surprise the city would investigate whether there is a better use of the 6,000-yard, par 71 course.
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