This decision by ClubLink to file an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board after the decision by town council in Oakville, Ont., to unanimously reject the company’s plan to redevelop Glen Abbey is far from a surprise.
In development-focused Ontario, it’s the natural order of things and Oakville Mayor Rob Burton made it sound as if his municipality was prepared for the next step, immediately replying that the town is prepared to defend its decision.
The OMB is an independent board that hears applications and appeals on municipal and planning disputes, one that is widely seen in Ontario as developer-friendly as it acts upon provincial policy, most notably that of intensification or the plan to cram as many people as possible within a certain area.
The saga of Glen Abbey has been punted to the provincial level and could actually become an issue with Ontario’s next election scheduled for June. With the OMB an independent board, you can bet the provincial government will attempt to distance itself from this issue when both sides of the Glen Abbey debate force the issue.
You can bet it’s one Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal government doesn’t want at this point, with Wynne’s numbers even worse than Donald Trump’s in the United States.
Oh, the fate of a renowned golf course won’t be the main issue in the build-up to next year’s election. There are already plenty of those already.
The most recent came on Tuesday when Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk slammed the provincial government for a complex scheme to pay for hydro rate cuts, one that is widely seen as a plan by the Liberals to buy votes. Lysyk revealed that plan will cost the province up $4-billion more than necessary in interest.
Hydro rates are expected to skyrocket once again after next year’s election.
That’s just one of several issues that the provincial government will have to face as the election gets closer and while the fate of the Abbey is far from the main issue, the Liberals don’t need another one piled on the existing heap.
The main complaint against the OMB is that it takes away the character of a town and the community’s right to develop according to its own plan. Mayor Burton called the ClubLink plan an attack on the Livable Oakville Plan to guide growth and he has a vociferous group of citizens behind him, led the the “Save Glen Abbey” group.
Concern about the skyrocketing price of homes in Southern Ontario and surrounding area and infrastructure that can’t keep pace with growth are also fueling resistance to the ClubLink proposal, along with the historical significance to the property, according to the Oakville decision.
The future of the Abbey isn’t only drawing interest from within Oakville. A recent TalkbackTO poll conducted by CTV News asked “should the Glen Abbey golf course should be saved or are you in favour of development? Of 1,138 votes as of Wednesday, 885, or 78 per cent, responded it should be saved.
On the other side of the argument is the right of ClubLink to do whatever it sees fit with land it owns, with accusations of NIMBY-ism fired at those who oppose the development. In case you don’t know, the term NIMBY is a rather derogatory term that stands for Not In My Back Yard used to describe those deemed as privileged who are hoping to save the assets of their property.
The appeal to the OMB, although expect, promises to be a drawn-out affair and you can bet the Save Glen Abbey crowd will be in the faces of MPPs and other provincial officials as the election draws closer, seeking clarification on where they stand.
In the meantime, plenty of money and time will be spent on what’s ahead.
There have been other such cases fought before the OMB, usually with the developer winning, but this one promises to have a lot more eyes on it, even before it gets to the OMB.
While Glen Abbey’s profile has a lot to do with the bigger audience watching this, it’s not as much about golf as it is about the future of Southern Ontario and what it’s developing into as we move forward.
It is an important issue, but governments have tried to dodge those before and you can bet with so many contentious issues facing the existing provincial government, it doesn’t want another one added to the pile.