Oakville is Going to Court to Protect Glen Abbey Cultural Heritage Site

The Town of Oakville has initiated a court application to determine its rights and jurisdiction under the Ontario Heritage Act in connection with the Glen Abbey Golf Course.

This action was taken in response to the announcement by ClubLink, the owners of the golf course, that it would be seeking to make an application to demolish all buildings (other than the Raydor Estate and the Stables) on the site and remove the Glen Abbey Golf Course in its entirety.

"Oakville has a longstanding commitment to protecting heritage resources across the town, and numerous heritage experts have advised us that Glen Abbey merits protection," said Mayor Rob Burton.

"ClubLink has ignored the process outlined in the Ontario Heritage Act to object to heritage designations. We do not see how demolishing the buildings and removing the golf course would meet provincial requirements that heritage landscapes be conserved."

The court application seeks direction regarding what the Ontario Heritage Act permits, and what obligations and duties rest with the town in processing a demolition application that it considers to be not authorized by the legislation.

A detailed heritage evaluation prepared by a team of experts last May concluded that the Glen Abbey property met all nine provincial criteria for municipal heritage protection.

Meeting one criterion alone is considered sufficient to designate.

The town then retained European golf course and heritage expert, Ken Moodie, to prepare a detailed review of the golf course heritage attributes, and Julian Smith, an internationally renowned expert on heritage landscapes, to provide his opinion on the course and the merits of designation.

On the basis of the expert opinions provided to the town, town staff recommended heritage designation, and council approved this recommendation on Aug. 21.

Public notice of the town's intention to designate the Glen Abbey Golf Course under the Ontario Heritage Act as a cultural heritage landscape was issued on Aug. 24.

Under the Ontario Heritage Act, individuals had 30 days to object to this Notice of Intention to Designate and seek a hearing before the Conservation Review Board on the heritage merits of the proposed designation.

ClubLink filed no objection.

Instead, ClubLink wrote to the town to state its intention to submit an application to demolish all buildings (other than the Raydor Estate and the Stables) and remove the golf course in its entirety. Pacific Life, the mortgagee of the property, did issue an objection, and a Conservation Review Board hearing is expected to be held later this year.

Council voted unanimously on Sept. 27 to refuse ClubLink's application to redevelop the Glen Abbey Golf Course lands to permit 141 detached dwellings, 299 townhouse dwellings, 2782 apartment dwellings with retail and office commercial uses, parks and open space, and natural heritage uses.

The staff materials before council recommending that council refuse the applications for zoning and official plan amendments noted that the applications did not represent good planning and were not consistent or in conformity with applicable provincial, regional and town policy.

Planning and development council also refused ClubLink's application for its Plan of Subdivision on Nov. 6.

ClubLink has already appealed the refusal of their development application to the Ontario Municipal Board.

No hearing dates have yet been set.

Photo courtesy of the Town of Oakville

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