Isn’t it ironic that the University is now the the valiant protector of parkland in the face of development and the Musqueam are the rabid private interest group?

From today’s Globe and Mail:

Gary Mason
June 14, 2007
VANCOUVER — One of the most prime pieces of real estate in the country, home to one of the oldest public golf courses in the city, is expected to be handed over to the Musqueam Indian band as part of a controversial land-claims agreement.

If the deal for the 120-acre University Golf Club goes ahead, constituents in Premier Gordon Campbell’s upscale west-side riding, which encompasses the land, will be forced to take some kind of action, one former University of British Columbia official predicted yesterday.

“I can tell you right now it will have a dramatic impact on any provincial election,” said Bob Hindmarch, a retired director of athletics at the university.

“Gordon’s constituents are going to be furious. I simply can’t believe the provincial government would do this but that’s what we’re hearing is going to happen.”

Mr. Hindmarch isn’t the only person who has heard a deal is in the works. Word has begun buzzing throughout the development community too, and sources suggest the current worth of the land is $5-million an acre.

As well, some of the university’s top patrons have been tipped off and have quietly begun to mobilize forces to fight the move when it is officially announced next month.

The Musqueam have laid claim to vast tracts of the city, including land on which the University of British Columbia and University Golf Club sit. The land is some of the most valuable property in the country.

It has long been accepted that any land-claims agreement with the Musqueam would be extremely costly simply because of the value of the land to which they have laid claim.

The university bought the golf club from the province in 2003 for $11-million over the objections of the Musqueam, who wanted the property included in any land-claims negotiations. The land has a covenant on it that stipulates the property be used for a golf club, which is why it sold for only $11-million when it would be worth hundreds of millions if it was ever redeveloped for residential or commercial use.

In March, 2005, the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned an earlier Supreme Court of B.C. decision that upheld the sale. The appeal court ruled that the provincial government breached its duty to consult and accommodate the band before transferring title to the property.

Two of the three appeal court judges agreed that the order-in-council authorizing the sale should be suspended for two years while the parties tried to reach an agreement.

Details of the anticipated deal between the Musqueam and the provincial and federal governments for the golf club are virtually non-existent.

However, one university source said the government would repay the university the money it paid for the course in 2003 plus interest. The land would then be transferred to the Musqueam, who would be required to operate it as a golf course for a set period of time.

“But I guarantee you the Musqueam could and will get out of whatever covenant is placed on the course,” said one source. “And if they redevelop that land it will be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to them. It’s one of the finest pieces of real estate anywhere in the country, let alone the city.”

It’s true. But to the federal and provincial governments, the golf club represents a fairly quick and easy solution to the land-claims dilemma it faces with the Musqueam. As mentioned, the band’s claim covers vast tracts of the city, including some of the most expensive residential property in the country. The government has no intention of turning either the university or any private residences over to the band, so the golf course offers an attractive alternative.

But handing the golf course to the band will likely have to come with a fair whack of cash as well.

Calls to Musqueam band leaders were not returned yesterday. The provincial government refused to comment on the story.

The Musqueam claim has been the great elephant in the room on the land-claims front. Reaching agreements with bands in remote areas of the province is one thing, coming to terms with one laying claim to large chunks of one of the most expensive cities in the world is quite another.

“The university would have kept that golf course a golf course forever,” Mr. Hindmarch said. “The idea that the province would take it away from the university and give it to the Musqueam without securing its future as a golf course in perpetuity is unthinkable.

“But that’s what we’re hearing. And like I said, if this thing goes ahead there are going to be tons of irate people. I guarantee you. I’ve talked to a bunch of people about this already and they’re very upset. This has greater implications.”


15 Comments so far

  1. Anonymous on June 16, 2007 1:09 am

    Terrible. Holy crap terrible.
    I hate land-claims. They are complete and total bullshit.

  2. Anonymous on June 18, 2007 5:57 am


  3. Patrick on June 19, 2007 4:13 pm

    I have yet to decide my opinion of this deal, its… nuanced.

    I most definitely do not want to see high rise apartments on that real estate. I very much enjoy having a green(ish) buffer between UBC and the urban rush of Vancouver.

    I do however recall a resolution at the AMS level in support of musqueam land claims, and being told by the mover of that motion that recognizing the land claim wouldnt involve the giving away of UBC property…

  4. Nathan on June 20, 2007 8:58 pm

    I don’t think I’ll comment on colonial piece-of-shit articles by Gary Mason

  5. Maayan Kreitzman on June 21, 2007 6:03 am

    I’d like to hear your comments, personally. It doesn’t seem like all the information is out there, certainly, but he’s making a fairly simple point.

  6. Anonymous on June 28, 2007 3:05 am

    Yes, I agree – terrible. And I have no doubt that if it is handed over, then it will be developed in the most profitable way possible. Very sad.

  7. Anonymous on June 28, 2007 7:32 am

    tristan here:
    how do you know that it will be developed in the most profitable way possible?
    the most profitable thing possible is a golf course that chrages 70 dollars a game!
    in fact, Musqueam plans to build housing for their own people. have you seen the ghetto in which they are now trapped?
    the articles in the mainstream press bemoan the possibility that Musqueam will build condos and starbucks! what projection!
    who is building condos and starbucks? how many condos and starbucks’ have musqueam ever built?!
    the hypocrisy of the campbellites is predictable.

  8. Anonymous on June 28, 2007 7:40 am

    tristan here:
    i forgot to add what the mainstream press is glossing:
    the reason this is all going down like this is because the province purposefully tried to offload the course to UBC a few years ago to undermine the treaty negotiations that were already underway. this was seen by the courts as illegal, and stopped by an injunction.
    furthermore, if you are just in general “opposed” to reconcilliation, justice, treaties, “land-claims”, whatever, i implore you to read about the history of white-indian relations in BC – start with Paul Tenants’ book “Aboriginal Peoples and Politics”.
    Really, there is a very real danger of creating an environment of intolerance if you do not strive to inform yourself about the history of this land.
    Things can get very ugly. You can get very ugly.
    It might also be good to read some books about the residential school system, think about it for a while, think about what it means, imagine yourself in that position.

  9. Nathan on June 28, 2007 8:42 am

    Two of Gordon Campbell’s friends, Bob Hindmarch (UBC Recreation) and Martz Zlotnik, are holding a “town-hall” meeting tomorrow evening at 7pm, at University Chapel, 5375 university boulevard (just east of the Village, on the south side of the road.).
    They are trying to rouse up intolerance and anti-aboriginal sentiment.
    We should make sure we are there to make clear that students stand firmly against intolerance, and in support of aboriginal rights.
    We should write up leaflets continued, and perhaps a couterpetition to that of the intolerance-sowers. also, some books on a table might be good.
    meet at the resource groups at 5:30!?

  10. Anonymous on June 28, 2007 5:50 pm

    how about back room deals!
    Shaugnessy Golf Club in conflict with M/Band over their lease arrangements.
    Shaugnessy buys Green Acres Golf Course.
    Province Hands over UBC to M/band
    M/band & Shaugnessy swap
    M/band owns approx 200 acres in Richmond with successful Golf Course.
    Shaughnessy Golf Club avoids moving to Richmond by owning Ubc golf course.
    m/band ends up with Shaugnessy Golf Course to Develop and Green acres for revenue generation or future development.

  11. Maayan Kreitzman on June 28, 2007 6:03 pm

    Nathan – why do you say intolerance and anti-aboriginal sentiment? They don’t want the golf course turned into houses or whatever. They’re trying to protect recreation facilities that they find important. Facile and hypocritical though that may be, I don’t think it’s “intolerance” to disagree with a fairly controversial land claim settlement which has had very little public exposure or consultation.

  12. Nathan on June 28, 2007 8:21 pm

    hey maayan,

    if possible, you should attend the town hall meeting tonight and see what you find about the “mood”

  13. Anonymous on June 28, 2007 10:06 pm

    Chief Ernest Campbell has already said that no development would take place until at least 2033 as part of any settlement.

    If development of greenspace is the issue, perhaps those concerned UBC residents should be asking tougher questions of UBC’s continued growth and expansion, rather than focusing so intently on the 120-acre parcel under negotiation here.

    The larger issue here is very much about how serious people living in Vancouver are about settling historic claims justly with their First Nation neighbours.

    During the inter-war period (1919-1939) the federal government made many ‘backroom deals’ concerning First Nations land in BC. In 1929, such a deal was made about the golf-course on Musqueam territory.

    As we know (from loads of evidence, sufficient to convince both the Indian Claims Commission and the Supreme Court of Canada), many of these deals did not meet the legal standards set by the Canadian government for itself.

    It’s worth asking: how did the Golf Course get there in the first place? Was the process legal? Fair? Done with the informed consent of the Musqueam? If it was like most of the other ‘land deals’ in Vancouver — Vanier Park, Kitsalano, Stanley Park — to name a few, it wasn’t. That’s why negotiations are under way today.

  14. Robert Sim on July 7, 2007 6:49 am

    Blame it all on UBC for a) opening the door to ripping out greenspace and planting condos, and b) attempting to purchase the course from the province a few years back (most likely to do a). The Musqueam have title to the land and whether they own it or UBC does it’s inevitable that it will be developed.

    My $0.02: The future of the UBC Golf Course

  15. Anonymous on August 14, 2007 1:04 am

    I’m not interested in the blame game, we are where we are. I do not play golf and it is unlikely that I ever will. My interests here are exclusively in preserving as much as possible of the green space that is still left here. That includes primarily the Park (every acre of it), but also the Golf Course, because it is a green area immediately adjacent to the Park.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the band needs to be fairly compensated during the treaty process, and there could be many ways of achieving that. But I’d like to be reassured that no chunk of the Park and the Golf Course changes its current use. I’d really hate to see the treaty process result in less green space in or around the Park, or even more clearcuts than we already had. Plus, anything like that might start a potentially very explosive and completely unnecessary conflict between the band and the community. Something like that would be in noone’s interest.

    If anything at all were to happen to the Golf Course in the future, it should be incorporated into the Park. The compensation to the band should be fair, but it shouldn’t endanger in any way our primary green areas here.

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