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Park board stays the course on Langara upgrades

Mayor’s motion to discuss alternative land uses left on the sidelines
langara golf course
On Monday night park board commissioners voted to proceed next year with $3 million in drainage improvements at Langara Golf Course. The project will have to go to city council for approval before it can go ahead. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Vancouver Park Board Monday night stood behind the planned drainage improvements at Langara Golf Course and voted against working with the City of Vancouver to look at possible alternate uses for the site.

The $3-million project that would significantly improve drainage on the course has been up in the air since March. On March 12, park board commissioners approved the project and sent it to city council for consideration. Two days later, the project was put on hold when Mayor Gregor Robertson introduced a new motion directing staff to approach the park board to discuss possible alternate uses for the land — a public park with restored wetlands, a trail network, sports fields and a competition-standard track and field facility, and to look at options to partner with Musqueam First Nation, Langara College, the YMCA and the province for future use of the land.

In April, the board passed a motion introduced by Non-Partisan Association commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung to look into proceeding with the first half of the project. On Monday, park board staff presented commissioners with four possible options for the drainage project and two options to respond to the mayor’s motion — direct staff to work with city staff on a master plan for the golf course, or to have staff continue to work on the board’s current planning initiatives.

In a unanimous vote, commissioners decided to go ahead with the full drainage improvement project next year and opted to stay the course with the current planning processes and not start a master plan for Langara Golf Course.

“As the Vancouver board of parks and recreation our job is to look at our overall parks and recreation system as a whole and to provide a balance and a diversity of recreation options,” Kirby-Yung said before the board voted on the matter, adding that the “suite of options” includes things like golf, tennis, swimming, skating, and track and field.

“I would note, for example, we have 14 track and field facilities across the city, we have three championship golf courses, we have 240 other parks,” she said, adding there are a number of parks in the area.

As for improving drainage at the course, which is notoriously wet and considered one of the most unplayable courses in the Lower Mainland in the winter months, commissioners voted to go ahead with the full upgrade of all 18 holes. Because the cost of the project comes in at more than $3 million, it will have to go back to city council again for approval before it can go ahead.

The project would start in April 2019 and likely be completed in the fall.

Langara is one of three full-sized public golf courses in the city. It was built in 1926 by the Canadian Pacific Railway and purchased by the City of Vancouver in 1973. Council designated it a permanent park in 1993.

According to staff, golf is the second largest source of revenue for the park board, bringing in close to $10 million annually in green fees alone. Langara accounts for almost $2 million of that and sees roughly 50,000 rounds played every year.

@JessicaEKerr

jkerr@vancourier.com