Oakville’s citizens should be able to shape their community

3 men walking the golf course
Oakville’s citizens should be able to shape their community

About the Author

Karen Brock

Karen Brock

Karen Brock has a passion for protecting the environment and human health. Karen has been president of Oakvillegreen since 2011, a board member since 2010 and a volunteer with Ground Breakers, Oakvillegreen’s tree planting program, prior to that.

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Oakville residents are shocked and upset that the corporation ClubLink, the owners of world-renowned Glen Abbey Golf Course, have made a proposal to develop all of the current golf course that stretches along the west bank of Sixteen Mile Creek, covering all the land between Upper Middle Road and Dorval Drive. This is a significant parcel of land representing a whopping 535 acres.

This fight is about the right of the citizens and Town of Oakville to shape the type of community we live in. ClubLink thinks it has the right to make several billion dollars or more by developing a property that is zoned as private green space. And with that much money on the line, they’re willing, and able, to outspend the Town and citizens groups….. but Oakville citizens are NOT going to be silent.

We are concerned that the OMB will take this fight out of our hands and force another backroom deal like the one that was sealed recently for the development of the Saw Whet Golf Lands, a parcel of 132 acres and a vital part of the environmentally sensitive Fourteen Mile Creek watershed.

Right now, ClubLink is on a charm offensive, offering residents a chance to view their “vision” at the clubhouse on Dec 1st and Dec 12th and offering gift cards to those who attend. Many who attended on Dec 1st, were information-gathering and others attended out of anger, that this could even be a possibility. Others stayed away, disgusted by the selfish promotion. At its heart, all of ClubLink’s messaging boils down to “Why you should write us a cheque for a billion plus dollars”.

To proceed with their development plans, ClubLink requires approval from Oakville Town Council, to change the zoning to residential. At present, the Glen Abbey Golf Course is zoned “private open space” and there is an allowance in one area for a hotel. Residents of Oakville need to phone, write or email their town councillors to let them know they want Glen Abbey to remain as is. If residents speak up, we can preserve our community by emailing town councillors: council@oakville.ca as well as Oakville’s MPP Kevin Flynn.

Glen Abbey Golf Course is NOT an identified growth area in Oakville

Ontario’s Smart Growth Plan was created years ago, in order to curb urban sprawl. Municipalities, through their Official Plans, were able to identify “growth areas” in their communities, preferably where there was already urban development in order to avoid sprawling into open greenspaces. Glen Abbey is one of these open greenspaces and as such, should NOT be developed. Unfortunately, provincial policies have loopholes and developers are eager to capitalize on these. One of the tools up their sleeve is to take the Town to the OMB, the Ontario Municipal Board, formed to deal with land use planning issues. However, decisions made at the OMB often erode land-use plans and don’t support or respect the environment, citizen participation or the public interest.

Protecting farmland and greenspace is important to Ontarians

Highlights from 2015 Environics polling data regarding the Greenbelt and Growth Plans as a part of the provincial Coordinated Land Use Planning Review show that:

  • Eight in ten Ontarians (79%) surveyed support Ontario’s Growth Plan
  • The top reason for this strong support was because of the Growth Plan’s role in protecting farmland and natural areas (93% say it is “important”, including 81% who say “very important”)

Greenspaces are important for everyone in our community

As we saw with the Saw Whet Golf Lands, these last remaining greenspaces, mostly golf courses, are prime targets for developers. The whole point of the province’s Smart Growth Plan was to prevent devouring green lands. The Sixteen Mile Creek valleylands (floodplain) are protected from development, so the owner cannot capitalize on this piece of the property. ClubLink is emphasizing that they are donating the valley lands to the Town. ClubLink is cleverly skirting the issue that they will be stripping almost 230 acres of greenspace (yes, including all the trees), and turning it into concrete & asphalt. By using buzzwords like “transit friendly communities” and lauding public accessibility to the Sixteen Mile valleylands, the developer is pretending to appeal to the public interest. However, citizens from all over Oakville, not just in Glen Abbey’s backyard, are desperate to acknowledge and preserve the cultural and environmental value of Glen Abbey just as it is now.

ClubLink bought the property in 1994 for 40 million dollars as a golf course. Today, they still own a beautiful world class golf course. It looks like ClubLink’s real business is speculating that they can convert golf courses to residential and commercial uses, and reap billions from a simple change of zoning. It’s up to our Town Council and all citizens to stop this bulldozing of natural and heritage properties in the name of personal profit.

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Readers Comments (3)

  1. Geoff Godard says:

    Karen, while I sympathize with your thoughts, when ClubLink was bought in 1994 spaceby Morguard, a property development company the fate of Glen Abbey was sealed and in my mind only a matter of time to become a housing development.

    My philosophical response is that the owner of a plot of land has more rights to what kind of activity is undertaken than those who are not owners of the property. It is a concept deeply embedded in our legal system.

    If the value is indeed billions of dollars, which it probably is, those opposed to it, particularly the adjacent property holders, are asking for a transfer of value to them, the value being the alternate use for the space, which is continuing to run a golf course. This will protect their view.

    It is an interesting question and while I have no skin in the game (other than the fact I am a member of the Oakville Golf Club which may stand to benefit from the closing of Glen Abbey) I do agree with you emotionally but I also believe in progress and private property rights.

    GG

     Reply
  2. Kim Stephenson says:

    Anyone who might be thinking that they have any say over this deal and this land development is sadly out of touch with reality!
    The deal is done. The town of Oakville will cave in and bend over backwards to get their mitts on the potential tax revenue that this land deal will bring. Take your photos now before the earth movers roll through and the sewers are dug. After this generation is dead, no one will question any of this or remember what a golf course was or looked like anyway. It will literary take a miracle to stop the plans they are making! My dream would be to see this site used for sports of all kinds including Olympic class venues here in Oakville. I can see the strip malls and condos now. Kim

     Reply
  3. Yong Jiang says:

    Though Glen Abbey Golf Course is owned by ClubLink, it doesn’t mean that ClubLink has an absolute right on how to use it. All the private lands have some public interests attached to them, so the use needs to incorporate the consideration of public interests. Since Glen Abbey has significant cultural and natural values, the public input is imperative. I hope our elected politicians can stands up and defend our public interests in this private land. A heritage status for Glen Abby Golf Course appears more appropriate at this stage. If ClubLink is not able to use this piece of land in a proper way, it can always sell this land to other interested parties. I am sure there are lots of potential buyers there.

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