Vancouver councillor blasts ‘highly inappropriate’ motion from mayor to convert Langara Golf Course into public park
Vancouver city councillors got into a heated debate Wednesday night after a discussion over drainage was turned into talks about converting green space at Langara Golf Course.
Council was originally meant to discuss a report recommending $3-million towards improving drainage on the site, which is B.C.’s oldest public golf course.
But before a vote could be held on the spending, mayor Gregor Robertson introduced his own motion in its place, that calls for a collaboration with the Vancouver Park Board to work on converting some of the golf course’s green space into a public park.
That motion ultimately passed, although all four NPA councillors opposed the motion.
NPA councillor George Affleck called the mayor’s move a “switch and replace,” and called it “undemocratic.”
“He blindsided us,” Affleck said. “I think it was highly inappropriate and it does not respect the democratic process.”
Affleck said he asked the city clerk if the move was out of order, and was told it was, although Affleck said he’s never seen something like this happen before in his time on council.
“This should be going through the proper democratic procedure of waiting to introduce it as a separate motion, debating the motion, bringing it to the public for consultation, and going from there,” he said.
“Instead the mayor is just going right ahead with this, and Vision is backing him before they get voted out in October.”
Responding to the motion on Thursday, Park Board commissioners said they were not aware that this “significant motion” would be presented at Wednesday’s meeting.
“We will need time to meet as a [b]oard to discuss the proposal in detail,” says Park Board chair Stuart Mackinnon in a release. “We will be in a position to provide an official response once we’ve convened on this matter.”
A release from the city on the proposal says the drainage issue speaks to a larger need for the space to be re-imagined, citing a city staff report that calls Langara one of the most unplayable golf courses in the Lower Mainland during the winter months.
“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 the statement.
“Langara College is adjacent to 114 acres of public land, yet they have no direct access or sports fields for their teams. As well, the Cambie Corridor is seeing tens of thousands of new people and families move into the neighbourhood as we add new housing along a rapid transit corridor.”
But Affleck said turning the drainage discussion into a debate about a new park will only mean trouble for the golf course and the Park Board in the short term.
“It’s too late to deal with it now because the [winter] season is over,” he said, pointing out that the board will end up losing roughly $2-million if the drainage issue isn’t resolved.
Fellow NPA councillor Melissa De Genova agreed, pointing out on Twitter that that money comes from the capital plan.
De Genova, Vision councillors and the mayor’s office did not respond to requests for an interview.
Vision councillor Andrea Reimer appeared to dismiss Affleck’s complaint about the motion on social media, pointing out that the motion is a request for consultation, rather than an actual rezoning.
The city release says the public and local First Nations will be consulted on the proposal.
A similar request from Robertson in 2012 to convert part of the golf course into a public park was met with heavy opposition from councillors and local golfers.
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