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Published on Thursday, December 21, 2017

Town designates Glen Abbey Golf Course as Heritage

Town of Oakville designates Glen Abbey Golf Course under Ontario Heritage Act

Town designates Glen Abbey Golf Course as Heritage
Oakville Beaver file photo
Upper Middle Road Bridge view of Glen Abbey Golf Course valley
By David Lea, Oakville Beaver

Oakville’s Glen Abbey Golf Course has been designated a property of cultural heritage value or interest under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Town councillors voted unanimously in favour of the designation Wednesday, Dec. 20 during a specially convened meeting.

The decision drew applause from around 40 members of the public who were present including members of the Save Glen Abbey Coalition.

There has been considerable interest in the future of the 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.

Many residents have voiced concerns about the loss of the golf course and the increase in traffic the development would bring to the area.

“This was exactly what we were hoping for when we all started this process a few years ago. This is a huge relief for the Oakville community that we were able to secure this positive result,” said Save Glen Abbey Coalition spokesperson Fraser Damoff.

“I think it speaks to council as well as the community’s push to make sure that Glen Abbey is protected.”

Given the golf course’s history within the community, the town carried out a cultural landscape assessment, which found the property to have local, provincial and national significance.

As a result, on Aug. 21, council unanimously voted to proceed with a Notice of Intention to Designate the property as a significant cultural heritage landscape under the Ontario Heritage Act.

The property’s mortgagee, Pacific Life Insurance, filed an objection to this notice, but withdrew that objection earlier this week clearing the way for the town to move ahead with the designation.

The designation is intended to identify the property’s heritage attributes and provide some level of protection from alterations.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton said this decision has been years in the making noting that work on the town’s Cultural Heritage Landscape Strategy, which seeks to protect and preserve local heritage icons, began in 2013.

That strategy identified Glen Abbey Golf Course as a priority property in 2016.

“I can’t think of very many things we have worked so long and so hard on,” said Burton.

“The town has a long tradition of identifying and conserving our heritage. Tonight’s designation is the next step in that long tradition, a tradition that predates this council. We were one of the first municipalities to have designated heritage conservation districts and we now have four of them. It is not surprising Oakville is taking a leadership role among municipalities in inventorying and protecting cultural heritage landscapes.”

Ward 4 town and regional Coun. Allan Elgar also weighed in on the designation.

“I think this is great news for all Oakville residents,” he said.

“It’s not over until it’s over, but this is a good start.”

While ClubLink representatives were present they did not speak during the meeting.

A statement issued by the ClubLink lawyer Mark Flowers on Dec. 20 called the heritage attributes listed by the town in the Notice to Designate “vague and overreaching.”

He argued the town is improperly using the Ontario Heritage Act to dictate how the Glen Abbey property will be used in the future.

“It appears that the intention of this proposed attribute would be to require the owner to maintain the property as a golf course on a permanent basis, and to do so to a standard that would be capable of hosting ‘championship golf,’” wrote Flowers.

He went on to state that sustaining the property in this directed condition would cost ClubLink an estimated $2 million per year.

Flowers also took aim at the connection between Glen Abbey and golf superstar Jack Nicklaus.

One heritage attribute listed by the town draws attention to the course being designed by Nicklaus, which they say has created a “close and ongoing association of the course design with Jack Nicklaus/Nicklaus Design.”

Flowers argued this attribute is not factually correct.

“There is no ongoing association with Jack Nicklaus or his firm, Nicklaus Design,” he wrote.

“In fact, Nicklaus Design has not had any involvement with Glen Abbey since 2005.”

With the designation passed by council the town will now issue a Notice of Designation to ClubLink and register this designation on the title of the property.

The property will also be added to the Oakville, provincial and Canadian registers of designated properties.

Burton emphasized it is premature to call ClubLink’s development proposal dead.

“They have an appeal on our refusal of their application at the Ontario Municipal Board,” said Burton.

“They have also made an application to the Ontario Court of Appeal concerning our heritage powers. So we are fighting them there too.”

Damoff said his group is also prepared for what comes next.

“The fight is not over yet, but at Save Glen Abbey we are raring to go to make sure this golf course stays the way it is and is protected for future generations,” he said.
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