A B.C. Supreme Court has disagreed with Gordy Robson’s contention that his combined golf course and sheep pasture is an allowed agri-tourism use within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Despite an earlier decision by the B.C. Assessment appeal board granting farm-status on the property, Justice N. Smith, J. ruled Friday that because the Heather Hills golf course isn’t temporary or seasonal, it doesn’t qualify as an allowed agri-tourism use of farmland.
The justice also stated that the Agricultural Land Commission can decide that the golf course does not meet the definition, even though sheep graze on the course.
That’s disappointing, said Robson, a Maple Ridge councillor who was mayor from 2005 to 2008.
People, seniors especially, will miss the golf course in the Webster’s Corners area at 117th Avenue.
In March 2014, before he was re-elected to council in November, Robson had agreed to shut down the course in return for the city dropping its court action seeking to force the closure of the course because it alleged the course was breaking a zoning bylaw.
But his lawyer decided to try again to challenge the Agricultural Land Commission.
Had he won, the golf course would have been considered an agri-tourism operation in the ALR which the city could regulate but not prohibit, Robson said.
Now, the part of the 22 acres of the family farm will become entirely sheep pasture.
“Our sheep expert is calculating what we’re going to do,” he said.
“But we still intend to maintain the farm.”
But other parts of the farm are being sold off into about three or four different parcels. About half has been sold already.
There’s lots of buyers for acreage properties in Maple Ridge, said Robson. The property with the family house will remain on the eight acres.
“It’s a shame we can’t protect the land. We wanted to die with it, pass it on. We will not be doing that now.”
It’s a sad day and disappointing for the family, he added.
“We spent a lot money building it, and it’s gone. I’m not going to fight anymore of it.”
Had he won, it would have shown that the issue isn’t a municipal issue, Robson added.