British Columbia

Green space vs. golf: Locals demand Vancouver's Fraserview course remain closed to golfers

Two City of Vancouver golf courses are slated to reopen Friday but some want Fraserview to remain as a community green space for the duration of COVID-19 restrictions.

Golfers will be teeing it up at Fraserview starting May 1 but some are unhappy to lose the community space

Since it was closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Vancouverites have been enjoying the outdoors in the well groomed lawns and landscaped gardens of Fraserview Golf Course. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Non-golfing locals are calling on the City of Vancouver to keep Fraserview Golf Course closed to golfers and open as a green space for everyone until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

On Friday May 1, Fraserview is reopening to paying customers.

It and two other civic courses closed back in March as part of the pandemic response and in the absence of flying golf balls, many Vancouverites have been enjoying the outdoors on the well groomed lawns and landscaped gardens.

A petition entitled "Keep Fraserview Golf Course Open to the Community" had 226 signatures at the time of publication.

"... the Vancouver Park Board wants to kick out the local community in favour of 12 paying customers per hour," it read. "We think that, during this crisis, green space should be open to everyone, not just those who can pay up to $58.25 to access it."

Park Board manager Malcolm Bromley said he understands the request and will be looking at options, but the May 1 golf opening will go ahead as planned.

"We're not going to ignore the plea and passion we've received, but there is equal plea and passion, if not more, from the 170,000 rounds of players a year that want to get back out there."

Golf revenue needed

Bromley said with the financial strain the city is under — Mayor Kennedy Stewart has warned Vancouver could go bankrupt — getting golf revenue flowing again is welcomed.

All first day spots at both Fraserview and McCleery filled up in 10 minutes, he said, and 90 per cent of tee times are already taken for the next three weeks.

Fraserview Golf Course is set to open again on May 1. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Park Board chair Camil Dumont says he sees both sides of the green spaces-versus-golf argument but points out there are over 240 parks in Vancouver.

"I think to those folks where golf is a big part of their lives, that's how they get out," he said. 

"There is a revenue part to this, and at this point, our system is in pretty dire straits, as it is for much of the businesses in our community right now," he said. 

Fraserview is open from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. every morning for locals who want to use the green space. The walking track that circles the course perimeter is always open. 

Bromley says there have not been calls to keep McCleery closed to golfers, likely because it's located in a less population dense part of the city.

Vancouver's third civic golf course, Langara, remains closed with its clubhouse operating as a COVID-19 emergency response hub, preparing meals for 700 people in the Downtown Eastside seven days a weeks.

Bromley says staff are looking at ways to reopen Langara to golf as well in the next few weeks, while, at the same time, maintaining the food operation.