Sunday, August 21, 2011

Are They Now Removing The Last Strips Of Astroturf From The Golf Course?


Last week I linked to a piece from Black Press' Jeff Nagel which made it clear that the heart of the GVRD's Pacific Spirit Park will now be ripped out, stomped on, and handed to developers.

This is a story that has garnered very little (i.e. essentially no) coverage in Lotuslandian's proMedia.

In fact, the only other Googleizable piece I have been able to find is from Carlito Pablo in the Georgia Straight.

Here's the very top of Mr. Nagel's lede:

"Metro Vancouver has lost a court battle against the provincial government over the expropriation of part of Pacific Spirit Regional Park that was handed over to the Musqueam Indian Band in 2008.

Twenty-two hectares (~50 acres) of the park in Vancouver near UBC – worth an estimated $200 million* – was taken from Metro without compensation and transferred to the Musqueam to settle a lengthy court dispute between the band and the province..."

But here's the thing.

Back in the fall of 2007 when Gordon Campbell was still running the province, and the riding of Point Grey where the Park is located, he apparently told his constituents that this would never happen according to a story by Ian Bailey in the Globe:

VANCOUVER — Premier Gordon Campbell says his government will take an extra three months to finalize a deal to cede the University Golf Club in his riding to the urban Musqueam band, according to a participant at the Premier's first meeting with community representatives on the issue.

The deal had been expected to conclude this month, but the Premier told participants at the Friday gathering in his constituency office that the government hopes to resolve it by the end of December.

"It looks like it's just a matter of working on the fine points, but it seems to me it's pretty much a done deal, that the ownership of the golf course is going to be transferred," said Bob Kasting, president of the University Endowment Lands Community Advisory Council, who attended the hour-long meeting at the Premier's invitation.

Mr. Kasting said two other community participants and former Vancouver-Quadra MP Stephen Owen, now an external relations vice-president at the University of British Columbia, were present.

The issue has spurred petitions, angry meetings and even a poll to counter the transfer of the 48-hectare course in Mr. Campbell's Vancouver-Point Grey riding.

Mr. Kasting also said Mr. Campbell flatly rejected the idea of preserving the golf course and giving the Musqueam land elsewhere such as in Pacific Spirit Park.

What's that you ask?

Initially, the Golf Course was supposed to go to the Musqueam for immediate development?

And now, instead, it's a chunk of the Park itself?

What was that all about?


In my opinion it was an elaborate misdirection play that, assisted by Astroturfing, made the unthinkable first possible, then probable, and finally, a lock.

Essentially, the 'turfing was initiated by Mr. Martin Zlotnik, a man with close longterm ties to the good Mr. Campbell who was also an NPA Parks Board member when he started up a 'grassroots' group called 'Save The Course' that wurlitzered up all kinds of media coverage that allowed him to get public traction with statements like the following:

"The government doesn't want to offend the greater community (by cutting a chunk of land out of the park). It's easier for them to offend the rich golfers who play out at the university golf course."

That zinger was also published in the Globe. The following link instead sends you back to my original post given that the BellGlobeEveryThingElseMedia's subscription wailing wall has been raised in the interim.

Regardless, do you see a pattern here about what gets covered when by the big proMedia boys 'round here?


Now, if you go looking for evidence of the 'Save The Course' turfing out on the far outer edges of the Google cache you will find nothing.

But if you use the Wayback Machine the echos are still there. And this wee little bit, from the site's 'About Us' page is ringing in my ears:

"Save the Course is an informal grass roots organization formed in response to the BC Provincial Government's intention to give the UBC Golf course to the Musqueam First Nation as part of a land claim settlement.

The Provincial Government's plan was negotiated in secret with no community consultation on the part of either the members of the Musqueam First Nation, the residents of the GVRD, or the users of the UBC Golf course.

Our organization believes that there are far better ways to satisfy the Musqueam claim than to lose this precious community asset.

Within days of the proposed land deal leaking out, more than 2200 people had signed a petition protesting it, the issue had received national media coverage, and sufficient funds were donated to produce this web site and begin a newspaper advertising campaign.

The two spokespersons for Save the Course are Vancouver residents Marty Zlotnik and Dr. Bob Hindmarch."

Just two rootsy keepers of the grass, those two 'Vancouver residents'.

Sure are.


There is one other thing worth mentioning here.

Which is the fact that lot of money was raised at that golf course for the good Mr. Campbell over the years. Here is Sean Holman's report of the take for the year in question, 2007:

"The provincial government's expected decision to cede the University of British Columbia Golf Course to the Musqueam First Nation has been a source of much controversy in the premier's riding. And Gordon Campbell will have an ideal opportunity to think about that controversy this coming Friday. After all, that's when the course will be playing host to the Liberal's annual Leader's Open Golf Tournament, which raised $262,520.62 for the Liberals last year...."

And it things were still going strong as late as this time last year.

So there is a lot of history for Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberal Party there.

Which takes us to the golf course's current, still active right now, 'History' webpage:

"The province operated University (Golf Course) from 1970-1985. From 1972 - 1977, the government spent 2 million redesigning and upgrading all or parts of 13 holes under the supervision of John Reimer, a Surrey golf course architect. In 1971, the government appointed Mr. Ron Willey as the Professional and the golf course was run more or less from Victoria.

In 1985 a group of Vancouver businessmen headed by Robin Lecky and late Shaughnessy Professional Jack McLaughlin was awarded a 25 year lease. Members of this group included sports commentator and promoter Greg Douglas and his partner Ron Gardner, UBC director of athletics Bob Hindmarch, Former Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club manager Bill Gillespie, engineer and developer Ivan Kraemer and chartered accountant Bill Humphries...."

Very finest of the fine Vancouver 'residents' on that list.

But here's one more, again from the course's 'History' page.

"The lease has since been controlled by David Ho...."



Above, I noted what gets covered, when, by the big proMedia in this town.

And what does not.

But what I'd really like to know is 'why'.

*The 200 million dollar number was first floated, at least in the public prints, by he who now helps write government 'reports', Mr. Miro Cernetig.....But then he revised his numbers and came up with the 'b-word'...As in 'Billions'.....Again, I ask, why, exactly, is this story not being covered?



Norm Farrell said...

If the corporate media addresses this, perhaps they could also tell us why, after almost three years since serious alleged criminal offences, Mr. David Ho has still not been taken to trial.

Do billionaire donors to BC Liberals follow different rules?

North Van's Grumps said...

The answer to that Norm lies with Peter McKnight of the Vancouver Sun, yesterday....

Snip ".... As it happens, this "substantial likelihood of conviction" test is the highest standard in Canada. Most provinces require a "reasonable likelihood of conviction" before laying charges, though Ontario requires a "reasonable prospect" and Nova Scotia a "reasonable chance" of conviction. The B.C. Crown is permitted to use the lower "reasonable prospect" standard in cases involving high risk, violent or dangerous offenders, but only in those cases.

This means that, all other things being equal, people might be less likely to face charges in B.C. than in other provinces. It also means that the laying of charges might take longer, since the Crown must meet a more stringent evidentiary test before approving them." Snip

Norm Farrell said...

However Grumps, Ho was accused in 2008 and has not gone to trial almost three years later. Regardless of whether or not the prosecutors are stuck on semantic differences, that is unreasonable.

The root cause is with the Liberal Government decreasing prosecutorial and court resources at the time that demand for justice service is growing.

Regardless of all the fussing about rioters deserving swift justice, the system cannot handle the cases, without dismissing charges against other miscreants who should be in front of a judge.

lynx said...

"In my opinion it was an elaborate misdirection play that, assisted by Astroturfing, made the unthinkable first possible, then probable, and finally, a lock."

Couldn't be said better.

RossK said...

NVG and Norman--

Not sure how we can expect the CorpMedia to touch this when none of them will go near the Bornman(n) Prophecy...



The thing is, Block 'F', the chunk of land in question here, is not the first piece of parkland that ended up in a developer's hands in that area.....

In other words, there is a history of parkland-jacking out there already.

(and, on a smaller scale, it made a small group of people lots of money...So....Why not scale up!)


lynx said...

Indeed, Ross.

For me, this fine series of articles of yours highlights an increasingly familiar misdirection 'process' of intentional cover and distraction - so circuitous and confusing that most people get lost in the maze. It always appears that the public is getting some kind of benefit - when in reality it results in that same small group of people holding all the marbles tightly in hand, just for themselves.

RossK said...


But it is more than just bamboozlement....The evil genius of this approach is that it is pretty much impossible for the CorpMedia to take apart because they are afraid to shave off the beard that has been used to cover the thing over.