Vancouver is teeing off over city-owned golf greens

Developers, and the city itself, would like to see affordable housing, rather than affordable golf, on the publicly owned land

Teeing off over city-owned greens

Rebecca Bollwit/Flickr

Vancouver’s publicly owned golf courses—Fraserview, Langara, and McCleery—are currently protected “green zones” out of reach to interested developers. But pressure from none other than the city itself, and its mayor, Gregor Robertson, might change that.

Last week Robertson revealed his plan to establish a housing authority that would manage the development of taxpayer-owned land. He also revealed he’s open to leasing some city public golf courses to developers for the construction of public housing. Referring to Langara golf course in particular, Robertson said, “It is debatable as to whether that is valuable green space. The public can’t access it, it is not bio-diverse and there is no strong business case.” The mayor might agree then, with Vancouver Sun columnist Don Cayo’s argument that “selling 20 per cent of just one of three city-owned golf courses could net $675 million that could be used for providing affordable housing to lowering taxes to approving amenities.”

This argument isn’t unique to Vancouver. Since October, the city of Winnipeg has received 32 proposals from private companies interested in leasing one or more of its public golf courses, which lose about $1 million a year.

Community activists in both cities, however, are concerned that development will eliminate valuable green space. And in Vancouver, some argue while affordable housing is very important, so is affordable golf: Vancouver’s supervisor of golf operations, Howard Normann, recently defended the city’s public courses, arguing they make golf accessible for those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

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