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Majority council support doesn't save Beach Grove Golf townhouse application

Beach Grove Golf Club proposed subdividing and consolidating 1.5 acres and selling the site to the applicant to construct a 20-unit townhouse development
beach grove golf townhouse plan
The applicant contended that by constructing 20 townhouses in a central location, local residents would be able to downsize, thereby opening up single-detached units for others.

A proposed 20-unit townhouse development fronting the Beach Grove Golf Club in Tsawwassen, came down to defeat Tuesday, despite the majority on council voting in favour, following a public hearing.

Requiring an Official Community Plan amendment, rezoning and other approvals, including an amendment to the site’s land-use designation under Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy, the application was to subdivide a portion of 5847 12th Ave. and consolidate it with 5766 16th Ave.

The remaining property would have continued to be a part of the Beach Grove Golf Club.

The golf course would have sold the site to the developer if the application was successful.

Applicant Dean Bauck with Royal LePage Regency Realty told council it has been a lengthy process and assured the development would be a good addition to the community.

“We found the salient, underlining theme is that people are uneasy about change. We empathize with them as we all tend to get comfortable with the status quo and sometimes are fearful of deviating from it,” said Bauck.

One of the residents who expressed support for the application said Delta needs to create alternative forms of housing types, particularly in the Beach Grove area, which is dominated by detached, single-family houses.

The housing issue was reiterated by several other residents who spoke.

Another speaker conveying support said the golf club is an important part of the community, adding that only a tiny portion of the course’s green space would be developed.

Among the points by another speaker in favour was that the development proposes the planting of 105 trees at a three-to-one replacement ratio.

One of the few expressing opposition questioned the private golf club’s reasoning to seek the development, adding green space should not be subtracted from the community.

Another conveyed concern about the loss of wildlife habitat, but Delta planning staff later told council a biologist was consulted for the project and no species of risk were identified.

The vast majority of speakers online, many golf course members, expressed support, but a speaker who attended the hearing in-person said he’s gathered a petition with about 675 Beach Grove residents who objected, noting Beach Grove is unique and not about removing greenspace.

During council’s discussion following the public hearing, Coun. Dylan Kruger, noting his job is to consider the land use application and not the finances of the golf course, said the project has advantages including its proximity to the town centre. He also noted it’s important to create more walkable and vibrant communities that fulfill housing needs.

Coun. Dan Copeland said his biggest concern was the petition and how the project could impact the Beach Grove community, adding it has been expressed that the project could also be the start of further development around the golf course.

Voting in opposition, he also said he wonders why the golf course couldn’t be open for the public.

Coun. Alicia Guichon was also opposed, saying she’s concerned about the loss of greenspace.

Coun. Bruce McDonald, however, said it’s one of the best proposals of that type he’s seen as a member of council.

Chairing the meeting as acting mayor, Coun. Jeannie Kanakos was also in favour, saying the application has been revised to address concerns and, on balance, the trade-offs are a plus for the community.

Despite a majority voting in favour, the application was defeated because it involves an Official Community Plan amendment, which requires four affirmative votes on council.

Mayor George Harvie did not participate in Tuesday’s hearing because he is a member of the golf club. Coun. Lois Jackson is currently on an approved leave of absence.

The golf club wanted to use the proceeds from a successful application to erase a multi-million dollar mortgage taken out years earlier and ensure the long-term financial outlook for facility.

In 2017, the applicant submitted a proposal to subdivide the subject site into 10, single detached lots. Following initial public notification and talks with the city, the applicant put that proposal on hold.

A revised proposal for a 22-unit townhouse development was received in December 2019. It was later lowered to 20 units.