Video: Aaron Jasper denies that he spoke to the mayor about his motion on golf courses
Last night at the Vancouver park board meeting, general manager Malcolm Bromley told me that I could not move around to take video within a certain band of space between the commissioners' table and the gallery.
His directive came shortly after I videotaped the following exchange between NPA commissioner John Coupar and Vision commissioners Aaron Jasper and Niki Sharma, who was chairing this committee meeting.
John Coupar asks Aaron Jasper if he talked to the mayor about his motion.
Jasper had introduced a motion for the board to ask staff to "compile and report back usage and revenue metrics for Vancouver's public golf and pitch and putt courses".
Last week, Jasper told the Straight the motivation behind the motion was to explore whether or not the Langara Golf Course could be reduced from 18 to nine holes, with the leftover land converted into a park.
Naturally, that created a furious backlash from golfers, who packed the boardroom last night.
Jasper's motion came forward shortly after Mayor Gregor Robertson told the Vancouver Sun that he was open to the idea of allowing housing developments on the public golf-course land. This elevated the level of mistrust in the room.
Coupar wanted to know if Jasper had talked about this issue with Robertson.
"Question is: has there been any discussion with the mayor with regard to housing as part of this motion?” the NPA commissioner inquired.
Jasper responded: “I have had no conversations with any member of city council or the mayor or any of the staff with respect to my motion—or, for that matter, any discussion with the mayor or any city councillor about the use of Langara Golf Course for golf, park, or any other uses. No conversations.”
Coupar followed that up by asking if it's not "normal practice that the Vision caucus meet from time to time on a regular basis".
At that point, Sharma interjected. "How is this relevant?" she asked Coupar. "He’s answered your question that he hasn’t spoken with anybody from Vision about this. How is this relevant?”
Coupar responded that he found Jasper's response to be "unusual".
"You may not believe it, but that’s his answer,” Sharma retorted.
NPA commissioner Melissa De Genova then introduced a motion asking if the board would suspend the rule banning commissioners from asking questions of staff at the committee meeting. (Yes, Vision commissioners have decided that there are to be no questions for staff at committee meetings!) The Vision majority voted down De Genova's motion.
One of the speakers before the board, Tom Davis, flatly declared that he didn't believe Jasper had not discussed this issue with senior Vision officials.
In the end, the board voted 4–2 in favour of Jasper's motion, which was amended to state that there was no suggested use of golf-course land for commercial or residential developments.
After I was banned from moving around in front of the table to capture video clips like the one above, I was permitted to go to the back of the room to film delegations. Below, you can see a presentation by Terri Clark, a retired park-board communications staffer, who pointed out that golf courses have traditionally been a cash cow.
Terri Clark educates commissioners about the history of Vancouver golf courses.
Jamie Lee Hamilton told commissioners that the Vision-controlled board has not purchased any land for parks since 2008.
Hamilton, who was speaking on behalf of the COPE park committee, said that certain areas are falling short of the board's policy of creating 2.75 acres of park per 1,000 residents.
Jamie Lee Hamilton calls for more parks.
Golfer Devin Blaney spoke for many when he urged commissioners not to mess with the Langara Golf Course, which he described as the most transit-accessible place in the city to play the game he loves.
Devin Blaney explains why he prefers the Langara Golf Course.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.