Context – The University Golf Course

Noticed UBC in the national news lately? It’s probably because of the University Golf Course. So what exactly is happening? How about an explanation – in timeline form.

1990: Developer David Ho leases the University Golf Course, on University Boulevard, from the provincial government. The land has what’s called a “restrictive covenant” attached to it, which means that it must stay as a golf course until the government says otherwise.

2003: The government decides to sell the course to UBC for $11 million. As part of the deal, UBC agrees to keep operating it as a golf course.

2004: The Musqueam First Nation sues the University as well as the provincial government. The claim the land and that the government was getting rid of it to frustrate their claim. (Note: First Nations can only claim land that’s still property of the Crown. Had the government sold the land, the Musqueam would have lost any claim they otherwise would have had.)

2005: The BC Supreme Court, applying Haida/Taku, finds that the government had a duty to consult with the Musqueam before selling the land. (However, they find no legal duty on UBC’s part to consult.) The Court puts the sale on hold for two years, while the government consults.

2007: The Globe and Mail reports that the government is planning to transfer the golf course land to the Musqueam.

As you may have noticed, it’s kind of a big deal. First Nations across Canada have been increasingly asserting their rights, and deliberately ramping up the public affairs rhetoric. Tomorrow had been claimed as a “Day of Action;” the scope of the protests will be significant. On the other hand, a variety of locals are, well, restless. Some UBC old-timers (Bob Hindmarch, Marty Zlotnik) are up in arms, and there’s threats that this could cost Gordon Campbell his Point Grey seat. There’s a self-appointed “town hall” this evening.

There are some significant long-term issues here:

  • Will the restrictive covenant bind the Musqueam? Can the Crown restrict the land once it’s been handed in a land claim settlement?
  • Will the Musqueam pull a UBC and develop the hectares of prime real estate and become a UBC-style land developer?
  • What’s UBC’s position? Do they still want the golf course?
  • How does having Musqueam land inside Endowment Lands impact UBC’s governance?

It’s a fascinating time to be watching this one.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

Comments are closed.

Please vote for us in the Continuous VoterMedia Contest