A South Surrey man whose business is being shut down after the city expropriated his property was told by city staff he’s not allowed to present council with a 900-signature petition calling for the decision to be reversed.
Ken Poirier, general manager of Riverside Golf Centre, told Peace Arch News this week he had planned to appear as a delegation before Surrey city council Nov. 2. He had hoped to appear in regards to the city’s expropriation of the 16-acre parcel of land at 3600 King George Blvd., which houses a driving range, Par 3 nine-hole golf course and pro-shop and has been in operation for nearly 50 years.
However, on Monday, Poirier said he was shocked to learn from the city clerk that he can’t present to council for legal reasons.
“That’s what you’d expect in a dictatorship,” Poirier said, calling the reasoning “ridiculous.”
“So after we go to court in two or three years, then we can talk to council?”
City solicitor Anthony Capuccinello confirmed to PAN Wednesday that Poirier would not be able to appear before council, because the matter is still before the courts.
Although the expropriation was finalized in June, the compensation – which Poirier said last month is a fraction of what he feels the property is worth – is the subject of an appeal claim.
“When you have matters that are in litigation, it is the practice of the city not to have delegations before council,” Capuccinello said. “There are a variety of reasons for that, the biggest one being that it’s before the courts and there are issues of privilege.”
The city’s reasoning for taking over the land, according to an expropriation notice delivered in January and a subsequent inquiry in April, is to “acquire open land for park purposes for biodiversity conservation, passive recreation and the viewing of wildlife and scenery.”
The city also plans to extend Crescent Road across King George Boulevard to connect with Winter Crescent.
With almost 900 signatures in hard copy form petitioning for the city to reconsider, and another 225 online, Poirier said he hoped to show council the impact the golf course’s closure will have on residents.
“They’re basically surgically cutting out part of the social fabric of the community,” Poirier said, noting he has many customers who have been golfing there for decades. “That’s the thing that’s being lost on council.”
When reached for comment, Mayor Linda Hepner said on advice from her legal counsel neither she nor other members of council would discuss the matter.
Poirier said the city is trying to get him to agree to vacate the property by the end of January. In the meantime, he is having his own appraisal of the land done and has retained legal counsel for renegotiation purposes.
– with files from Kevin Diakiw