Oakville is calling on the province to put an end to a long-running fight over the future of the Glen Abbey golf course by permanently quashing plans to build homes and offices in its place.
With an Ontario Land Tribunal hearing on the golf course’s future set to begin at the end of the summer, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton says he will prepare a resolution for his council that could include a formal request for a ministerial zoning order, or MZO.
MZOs are a powerful tool the minister of municipal affairs can use to make decisions on how land is used.
“The bottom line is, [an MZO] would preserve it as greenspace, and that’s what the community wants”, said local MPP Stephen Crawford in an interview with CBC Toronto.
Crawford had sent a letter advising Burton to formally request the order, telling CBC Toronto that given the increased number of MZO’s being issued lately, he felt the time was right.
ClubLink Corp, which owns the 80-hectare golf course, wants to clear the way to build more than 3,000 homes on the land, as well as parkland and office buildings.
Glen Abbey, which was designed by American golf legend Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1977, is considered one of the crown jewels of the sport in Canada.
“This is an unplanned development in the heart of Oakville. It’s not near any transportation hubs, it’s not part of the liveable Oakville plan,” said Crawford.
“We have other growth areas … but that particular area is not a growth area. The number of residential units and residents that could potentially be moving in there is more than the area can handle.”
After years of back and forth with the town, the company’s plan is set to decided on by the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), formerly known as the Land Planning Appeal Tribunal, in August.
With the clock ticking, Halton Regional Council also passed a unanimous motion last week “[reminding] the province of its promise to protect Glen Abbey” and asking that it use “all resources and tools at its disposal” to protect the land.
Oakville rejected plan in 2017
Allan Elgar, a regional and town councillor for Oakville and Halton Region, is hoping the OLT hearing — slated to last 19 weeks — never gets started in the first place.
“It adds a lot more costs to the taxpayer. We can stop this now,” said Elgar, who hopes an MZO will be requested and issued.
He describes the past several years as a “seesaw” back and forth between the company and town council, with ClubLink “throwing everything at it so they can develop the golf course.”
In 2017, Oakville city council unanimously voted to designate Glen Abbey a heritage site and rejected the company’s plan for the land.
“The town of Oakville has said they don’t want the development there. The residents don’t want the development there,” said Bill McKinlay, spokesperson for a group called “Save Glen Abbey.”
On the “Save Glen Abbey” website, the group lists reasons the course should be preserved, including its environmental attributes as well as its history as a host of 30 Canadian Open tournaments.
McKinlay says the group is also hopeful the government will step in before the hearing gets underway, saying though he believes they have a strong case, the track record for the LPAT (now the OLT) “isn’t great for communities defending their decisions.”
ClubLink did not respond to the CBC’s requests for comment.
Other media outlets have quoted a letter sent to Halton Region councillors last week by lawyer Mark Flowers on the company’s behalf, in which he said that, with the hearing weeks away, it would be “inappropriate” for the province to take any steps to intervene at this point.
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