October 26, 2020

Teed Off at Public Golf Courses? Australian Mayor Clover Moore Swings for a Park

There’s been some discussion that the City of Vancouver’s three public golf courses, which are classified as park land, should be morphed into housing sites. The argument has been that as the population of the City of Vancouver expands, why not use golf course sites for housing?

The City cannot easily turn land zoned for park use into housing sites and there’s the suggestion that doing so may be short sighted, as the city densifies and requires park land for a growing populus into the next century. The City does have an  established policy of providing 2.5 acres of park land for every 1,000 residents, and used DCLs on new development to garner funds for park purchase.

The original intent of DCLs, (Development Cost Levies) was to pay for social housing, infrastructure, parks and childcare facilities. As development occurred in the city, each development would pay a portion of the associated costs. Councils have also waived these DCL payments in some cases to achieve other goals such as new affordable or rental housing, meaning that the funds for other infrastructure required have been deferred.

Take a look at what the  City of Sydney Australia is doing in this article written by Megan Gorrey in the Sydney Morning Herald. Mayor Clover Moore and Sydney Council is considering two plans to pare down an 18 hole civic golf course to 9 holes and create 20 hectares of new parkland.


It’s no surprise that Golf New South Wales called the proposal “shameful”. But the Lord mayor argues that the land is for public use. While the golf course is in a park trust run by New South Wales state, Mayor Moore observes that the area surrounding the golf course is “becoming the densest residential area in Australia” with an expected population increase of 70,000 residents and 22,000 workers by 2031.

There are twelve golf courses, six accessible to the public within 12 kilometres of this golf course. The City Council plans to spend $50,000 on a community consultation plan for the area and for the park if the proposal is adopted, providing new park land with close proximity to the downtown.

This is not a new proposal as outlined in this Council Mayor’s minute but was identified in a 2016 Feasibility Study as a way to create more parkland for residents.

While there are going to be forty new parks and play spaces in the planned redevelopment around this golf course, the Mayor’s minute observes “ small parks do not provide the opportunity to stride out, de-stress and recharge or renew and commune with nature for people living in high density apartments. They need this opportunity for their mental and physical wellbeing.”

With Sydney Council’s intent to tear down the fencing of the golf course, the State’s Department of Planning has come out swinging. The State’s position is that as the third most used public golf course in the country with 60,000 rounds played annually, there should be strong support to maintain it as such, with their own “masterplan” created three years ago.

You can review the comments section on the Sydney Morning Herald’s article here which shows a cleaving of positions between the golfers and just about everyone else. Below is a YouTube video describing the Moore Park Golf Club where you can “Get Moore”.

Images: SandyJames,WalterPeeters,CityofSydney


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  1. I think I concur with Dan and agree with those that assert it would be short-sighted to turn Vancouver’s golf courses in to giant housing developments. Thanks to the backers of the latter notion, chiefly Condon and Hein, for getting the discussion going.

  2. I guess my question would be: are the city golf courses underutilized? If they’re booked solid then aren’t they serving their intended purpose?

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