Civic expropriation closing Riverside Golf Centre

King George Boulevard business to make way for Surrey parkland, roadway.

Ken Poirier prepares for the closure of Riverside Golf Centre on King George Boulevard.

The owner of a South Surrey business is being forced to close his doors after nearly 50 years, after the city expropriated his family’s King George Boulevard property.

Ken Poirier, general manager of Riverside Golf Centre at 3600 King George Blvd. told Peace Arch News this week that it is “beyond his comprehension” why the city would force the sale of the 16-acre parcel of land, which currently houses a driving range, Par 3 nine-hole golf course and pro shop.

According to the expropriation notice delivered in January, and a subsequent inquiry that took place in April, the city’s objective is to “acquire open land for park purposes for biodiversity conservation, passive recreation and the viewing of wildlife and scenery.”

“They’re shutting down a business that has been in the community for nearly half a century,” Poirier said.

“Why do we have to be sacrificed for a conservation area? It’s a beautiful park already, where you can have active recreation.”

The city also plans to extend Crescent Road across King George Boulevard, to connect with Winter Crescent.

Poirier said he has received an outpouring of support from “outraged” customers, and has collected close to 500 signatures on a petition calling for the city to halt its plans.

Yet, according to City of Surrey solicitor Anthony Capuccinello, the expropriation was completed in June, and the city already holds the title to the land.

“If the owners aren’t satisfied with the payments they received, they have the opportunity within a year of the completion of the expropriation to make a claim,” Capuccinello told Peace Arch News. “That’s where issues like property value and business loss would be adjudicated.”

In testimony delivered at the inquiry, Surrey parks manager Owen Croy referred to the city’s objectives in increasing park land laid out in a number of planning documents, including the Official Community Plan, which has set a target of 0.8 hectares of nature preserve and habitat corridors per 1,000 residents.

At the same inquiry, Poirier recommended a compromise by which the city would take the portion of land for the roadway, as well as a portion along the river to allow for a walkway.

However, inquiry officer Mark Underhill ruled that the compromise took a “far too narrow approach to the objectives put forth by the city,” and recommended that the expropriation be approved.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner was taking part in the Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference this week, and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Poirier is now in the process of having an independent appraisal done on the property, as well as securing legal counsel to aid in renegotiations.

While he wouldn’t share the price the city has agreed to pay for the property, he said it is a fraction of what was offered two years ago by a development group that wanted to build a high-end recreation facility on the property, an amount that would have allowed the family to open a golf centre at another location. That proposal, which would have required an Agricultural Land Reserve exemption, did not proceed past the exemption phase, and has since been taken off the table.

In researching other properties up for sale within a few kilometers of the golf centre, Poirier said he feels the price the city has offered is “outrageous.”

Poirier said the city has given him “three to four months” to vacate the property, and is now working on informing his customers who may have pre-paid punch cards to use them before the golf centre is closed.

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