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Published on Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Oakville's Glen Abbey inches toward a protected status

Heritage Committee recommends heritage designation by Council

Oakville's Glen Abbey inches toward a protected status
Oakville's Glen Abbey inches towards a protected status
Glen Abbey Golf Course - Oakville Beaver file photo
By David Lea, Oakville Beaver

The Glen Abbey Golf Course is one step closer to receiving some kind of protection due to its cultural significance.

The Heritage Oakville Advisory Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday, Aug. 15 to issue a notice of intention to designate the entire 229-acre property under the Ontario Heritage Act.

If town council concurs with this decision at its Aug. 21 meeting, town staff can begin looking into options for protective measures for Glen Abbey, which could include amendments to the town’s Livable Oakville Plan, zoning bylaw or other tools as deemed appropriate and necessary by the town.There has been considerable interest in the future of the Glen Abbey Golf Course property at 1333 Dorval Dr., ever since owner ClubLink announced plans to build 3,222 residential units, including nine nine-to-12 storey apartment buildings at the site.

It is unclear at this time exactly what impact designation under the Ontario Heritage Act would have on ClubLink’s development plans.

The report presented to the heritage committee included a review of Glen Abbey Golf Course by Ken Moodie, director of the golf course architecture and consulting firm Creative Golf Design.

Town heritage planner Susan Schappert discussed that review.

“The Golf Course Review concludes the Glen Abbey golf course has a number of key attributes including the ‘spoke-and-wheel’ design of the golf course, which is the designed layout of the holes. Therefore, the spatial arrangement of all of the holes and the relationship between them needs to be protected,” said Schappert.

“The report specifies that this applies to both the valley holes and tableland holes, as well as the central clubhouse that acts as the ‘hub’ of the wheel. The other designed features of the golf course, including the greens, bunkers, lakes, planting and landforms, such as the spectator mounds, make the property an important early example of a stadium-style golf course.”

The town also retained Julian Smith, of Julian Smith & Associates Architects, to provide a detailed analysis of the cultural heritage value of the Glen Abbey property.

In his report, Smith calls Glen Abbey one of the most significant works by one of golf’s most significant figures, Jack Nicklaus.

“It ushered in a new era in tournament golf course design with its stadium and hub-and-spoke features. Its design is remarkable for the integration of artistry and craftsmanship, with many iconic stretches including the challenge and beauty of the valley holes and the drama of the final two holes,” wrote Smith.

“Its association with the Canadian Open has given it international significance and ties to many of the leading figures in the sport. It is a landmark not only within the Town of Oakville, but across Canada and abroad.”

Those present also heard from ClubLink representative Mark Flowers who called on the heritage committee to defer its decision, stating ClubLink had been denied the opportunity to have proper input into this process.

One grievance listed by Flowers was that the town denying ClubLink the opportunity to meet with the consultants who examined Glen Abbey Golf Course.

He said the town also failed to release information in a timely fashion, stating ClubLink received 900 pages of new material including two consultants’ reports from the town just days before the heritage committee meeting.

The actual draft notice of intention to designate and the description of heritage features were only received by ClubLink on the evening of Aug. 14, Flowers said.

Flowers also noted the apparent rush to designate this property could cause problems with the operation of the existing golf course.

Golf Canada, he said, has concerns the proposed designation may get in the way of renovations and other work that is a regular part of life at Glen Abbey Golf Course.

Such a designation, Flowers said, may even hinder preparations for the 2018 Canadian Open, which will be returning to Glen Abbey.

“The reality is the Glen Abbey property is in a constant state of change, and with that in mind, ClubLink is concerned any new designation that includes the golf course portion of the property will either restrict certain changes or at the very least has potential to add delay to the process of being able to make necessary changes as part of the ongoing operation of the golf course,” said Flowers.

The committee also heard from Gary Mark of the Save Glen Abbey Coalition.

Mark called on the committee to push the designation forward and submitted a document, which he said contained thousands of comments from people who support the property’s designation.

“The course is world renowned, it’s iconic, it is world famous, it is representative of the legacy of Oakville,” said Mark.

“It has tremendous stature to Oakville … This is central for Oakville to retain its heritage and identity as a golf centre.”

Oakvillegreen Conservation Association president Karen Brock also spoke at the meeting.

She said she supported the designation of the property and called for the adoption of YIMBYISM (Yes In My Backyard) with regard to green space and cultural heritage.

Brock said Glen Abbey more than meets the listed reasons for designation under the Ontario Heritage Act.

One of the key reasons for heritage designation, she said, is that it recognizes the importance of a property to the local community.

“There is no doubt that Glen Abbey is the pride of Oakville,” said Brock.

With the delegations heard, the committee briefly discussed the matter.

Committee member Geri Tino countered ClubLink’s argument that information was not given to it in a timely fashion noting area residents had just as little time to review the information, but had still managed to speak intelligently and passionately about it before the committee.

Committee member and Ward 5 town Coun. Marc Grant said as Oakville continues to grow it is important to maintain sports facilities like Glen Abbey for people who want to stay active.

The committee’s unanimous vote will bring the notice of intention to designation Glen Abbey before town council on Monday, Aug. 21.

ClubLink has the option of appealing the decision to the Conservation Review Board.
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