Op-Ed: Saving Glen Abbey ~ paying the price is important

Glen Abbey
Op-Ed: Saving Glen Abbey ~ paying the price is important
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Chris Stoate

Chris Stoate

Chris Stoate holds degrees from Cambridge University and the University of Toronto. He founded and operated LaserNetworks, an international IT services firm in the print space with a significant environmental contribution. Chris has an interest in public education and served on the Halton Learning Foundation Board and the United Way Board, chairing the Oakville United Way campaign in 2012. He has also been an Oakville Town Councillor.

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Ray Chisholm Election 2018 Ward 3 town councillor

There has been a fair bit in the press lately about what the Town has spent so far, first in its longstanding effort to preserve cultural heritage landscapes such as Glen Abbey, and second in dealing with the ClubLink application to develop the property. It’s a big number and cause for pause.

I have given many reasons why I believe Glen Abbey should be preserved as a golf course, but in addition to the merits of the case, there is an overriding principle that makes this a critical battle not just for Oakville, but for every municipality in Ontario.

If your neighbour’s house were zoned residential, and he or she applied to the Town to raze it and put up a fast food drive-thru, and had the resources and motivation of ClubLink, the Town would have to spend an enormous amount to stop the application (assuming it didn’t see it as offering previously unconsidered benefits to the community, which is why owners should have the right to apply for zoning change and why the Town must consider the applications fairly). We would all support this not only because you have relied on this zoning in buying your own house, but because if a developer could get that kind of rezoning when the Town’s official plan (Liveable Oakville) conforms to the Province’s guidelines, then there would be little point in having an official plan and zoning by-laws, a planning department, or even a Town Council.

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These tools either have authority, or the Town might as well get on with working FOR developers, rather than working WITH them to build projects not only marketable to newcomers but also respectful of the legitimate expectations and wishes of the existing residents (who outnumber the newcomers). Absent this, Town officials would simply administer the translation of market demand from prospective Oakville residents, as understood by the developers who want to meet it, regardless of what existing residents want: developers’ primary concern is appealing to customers, not to their customers’ neighbours. (In theory they care about the appeal of the community too, but while their individual development might not seem to threaten it, someone needs to be watching out for the cumulative effect, and that won’t be the developer of a specific project.)

In such a world it would not be long before every community in Ontario became indistinguishable from every other. Already, you could be set down blindfolded in many of them and have no idea where you are. Creating a unique character and personality for any community, making it liveable, should be up to residents and developers, not developers alone. I applaud Mayor Burton and our Town Council for investing in this principle, on behalf of our self-determination as a community, and for every Ontario community. Winning has the potential to reduce the number of expensive future battles to be fought. Losing would create a case for a dramatic reduction in future planning investment. Either way, return on our investment!

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Readers Comments (8)

  1. Steve says:

    They bought a Golf course, land that was approved, permitted and zoned as a golf Course………..

    I agree with the article, you cannot say I want a new land use.

    I have a large lot in SE Oakville. I would love to sub divide it into 4 lots like north Oakville but I cannot because we have rules….

  2. Robert says:

    It is the elite who enjoy this golf course who want to force the owners and the rest of us who can’t enjoy this property dictate what happens to it. It’s time to move beyond the fossilized entitled thinking of the past and as the developer has proposed, create a place where the entire community can enjoy. If a building or two can remain, great, but this place can’t stay a golf course forever. Rather than swinging your precious clubs and drivers in anger, those who complain should consider the temporal nature of their own existence and let this one go.

  3. Bill says:

    Robert – so you’re good with adding another 9,000 new residents to the Glen Abbey neighbourhood?

  4. Gordon Brennan says:

    The fate of Glen Abbey Golf Course in in the hands of the courts. Having said that democracy demands freedom of choice. Forcing Club Link to keep their property as a golf course in perpetuity is not democratic. The current owner is also claiming that the operating costs far exceed the revenue stream and its a losing proposition to the tune of $2 Million every 12 months. Unlike Governments who can recklessly spend endless amounts of cash unabated and pile on the debt, private sector companies do not have that luxury. I have lived in Oakville since 1994 and have never played a round at that course due to the cost. I did have my wedding reception at the clubhouse and it was fantastic! I have also attended many real estate seminars at the course and they too were outstanding. While I too would like to see the course remain, it would also be quite enjoyable to walk through the public areas that are promised by the developer.

  5. Jill says:

    When ClubLink bought the property from the RCGA the Town agreed that future use could be a residential development. Then again when The Victor Report in 2006 which was paid for by the town and written by a planner, Ruth Victor came out she said the upper table lands best use is as a residential area.

    I agree with Mr. Brennan. Please let this redevelopment happen.

  6. Neil says:

    The addition of over 9,000 vehicle trips per day on Upper Middle and Dorval drive which are already congested at times is ludicrous. Shoehorning this massive development into less than half of the golf course land which has no infrastructure to support it, and which will further overload crowded schools only makes sense to the company who profits from it. If we allow the owners to force through this huge development what is next? Uncontrolled development anywhere, the unique elements of our Town destroyed at will, all green space built on, massive condos blocking views and access to the lake. Our council are fighting to protect our right to plan our Town, we must win this fight!

  7. John P. McLaughlin says:

    This article is 100% nonsense. There is zero correlation between The legality of the Town’s regulatory actions affecting Glen Abbey’s use (or designation), which are the subject of the legal proceedings and alarmist “razing” of any residential neighborhoods in Oakville. Nonsense!

    This author stokes up classic fear-mongering and emotion — because he has no rational argument. He demonizes and mis-informs voters by exploiting emotions and subject-matter ignorance.

    I am guessing that at the end of the entire process, both Mayor Burton & his elitist “green” followers will line up to buy a “new” home at Glen Abbey – with its 54% green-space for all to enjoy.

    The Mayor & any candidate who says they can “save” Glen Abbey are misleading voters, just to get elected in their self-interest, not the best interests of the community.

    The courts will decide whether the Town’s actions are unlawful — insofar as Glen Abbey is concerned. That is a discrete issue — end of story.

  8. John P. McLaughlin says:

    This article is 100% nonsense. There is zero correlation between The legality of the Town’s regulatory actions affecting Glen Abbey’s use (or designation), which are the subject of the legal proceedings and alarmist “razing” of any residential neighborhoods in Oakville.

    This author stokes up classic fear-mongering and emotion — because he has no rational argument. He demonizes and mis-informs voters by exploiting emotions and subject-matter ignorance.

    I am guessing that at the end of the entire process, both Mayor Burton & his elitist “green” followers will line up to buy a “new” home at Glen Abbey – with its 54% green-space for all to enjoy.

    The Mayor & any candidate who says they can “save” Glen Abbey are misleading voters, just to get elected in their self-interest, not the best interests of the community.

    The courts will decide whether the Town’s actions are unlawful — insofar as Glen Abbey is concerned. That is a discrete issue — end of story.




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