A group of Oakville residents are continuing the fight to save Glen Abbey Golf Course from being destroyed and made their way to Town Hall on Friday to defend the green space.
“You can usually count on one hand the amount of people that are able to go to these meetings because they are held during the week, during the work day, making it very difficult for most people to be able to go,” said Save Glen Abbey Coalition spokesperson Fraser Damoff.
He was at the April 27 pre-hearing with a few other coalition members.
The owner of the famous Canadian golf course, ClubLink, is proposing to turn the course into a mix of 3,200 residential units, office and retail space.
The decision has sparked considerable opposition from locals.
We’re at the #OMB prehearing on @ClubLink ‘s appeal of the @townofoakville refusal of @GlenAbbeyGC development application. Looks to be another 2nd prehearing near the end of the year. Many parties and participants involved. #SaveGlenAbbey pic.twitter.com/oEjKAJyxA8
— Save Glen Abbey (@saveglenabbey) April 27, 2018
Now, ClubLink is appealing town council’s Sept. 2017 decision to refuse its development application to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
Damoff said it’s important to attend the pre-hearing because this proposed redevelopment would impact more than just the people of Oakville.
The golf course was officially designated a cultural heritage landscape by council on Dec. 20, 2017. Town staff, heritage experts, golf historians and members of the community all put forth evidence of the significant cultural heritage value and attributes of the Glen Abbey property.
The designation means that any proposed modifications to the golf course must conserve the cultural heritage landscape of Glen Abbey, without interfering with the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the golf course.
After council voted to designate Glen Abbey a heritage site in August 2017, ClubLink’s vice president Robert Visentin spoke out against the move in a statement, calling the heritage designation a “blunt tool” that was being used to “block our proposed real estate redevelopment.”
Inhalton.com reached out to ClubLink for comment and was told no one was available to speak about the Glen Abbey redevelopment proposal.
As of 2007, majority ownership of the club property changed to property developer Rai Sahi of Morguard Corp., who called for the site’s destruction in Sept. 2015.
ClubLink faced a similar resistance from locals in Aurora after the company called for a redevelopment proposal in 2014 for its smaller Highland Gate golf course. ClubLink had to go through the OMB and the proposal was eventually approved.
The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) replaced the OMB as of April 3 via Bill 139 or the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act.
The LPAT will ensure that local planning decisions are made locally.
Damoff said the establishment of the LPAT was “definitely encouraging” to see.
“Residents, like myself, think the traffic concerns and the amount of money that would flow to that area of town, that wasn’t planned for, would be detrimental to the whole town,” said Damoff, who is running for council in the Oct. 22 election.
He said new growth would be created on the course while there’s a community just south of Glen Abbey, Kerr Village that has already planned and is willing to take on that kind of development.
The Save Glen Abbey Coalition petition has received more than 10,000 signatures from people around the world.
Some signatures come from people who have never been to Oakville and others are from those who only visit once a year for the Canadian Open.
“Certainly it’s the most profitable golf course around Ontario and probably even all of Canada so it’s hard to believe why they would want to get rid of it,” Damoff said, adding we need to “get rid of this notion that just because you own your property, that means you can do whatever you want with it.”
Damoff said the municipality did a lot of leg work developing the official plan for the redevelopment of the golf course and ClubLink never mentioned the property being zoned as commercial or residential during the planning process.
“The Town of Oakville has lost OMB cases before and they’ve won quite a few as well. I think this is going to be an example of where the town did their homework and come out on top in the end,” he said.
Court hearings begin July 16.
Photo courtesy of ClubLink