Showdown over Burlington golf course development could have broader implications

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Published March 1, 2024 at 7:52 pm

Burlington golf Millcroft Ontario development
A development plan has been proposed for the Millcroft Golf Club in Burlington. Both the City and neighbouring residents are opposed.

It’s the fight that has been long anticipated but will finally take place.

And the result could have an impact on development in all parts of Burlington moving forward.

Next Tuesday (March 5), the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) will begin hearing arguments that will determine the future of Millcroft Golf Club. The OLT is the body that rules on land disputes in Ontario and has the authority to grant the zoning changes necessary to allow homebuilding at Millcroft to take place.

What’s at stake is the ability of private property owners to build wherever they like without local public control over land that may be considered environmentally sensitive. But the process comes at a time when there is immense pressure from senior levels of government to build more homes and to build them fast.

In this case, the owners of the property want to create Millcroft Greens, a community of about 90 homes they hope to build on the site. The golf course would remain but on a smaller scale.

Opponents include a group of residents who argue that replacing greenspace with more homes will affect flood management, kill off wildlife and create traffic problems in their neighbourhoods.

The City of Burlington, which has supported the residents, will also be a player at the hearings because of its stance on the development plan. Those behind Millcroft Greens sent the matter to the OLT because the City failed to act on the building plans needed to proceed with the development proposal.

The hearings have been delayed for over a year but during that time all parties have prepared their arguments. As well, the City used the delay to appeal to the Provincial government to step in and halt the proceedings on the grounds that the greenspace should be protected.

The underlying concern to those opposed is the precedent that could be set if the OLT rules in favour of the development. The fear is that more greenspace across Burlington could disappear if developers receive a favourable ruling on Millcroft.

By appealing to the Provincial government to intervene City officials hope that the decision-making won’t be left in the hands of the OLT.

Getting the Provincial government involved in these types of disputes has happened before. In 2021 then Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark, after strong pressure from the Town of Oakville and its residents, stepped in to convince owners of Glen Abbey Golf Club to stop redevelopment plans.

So far Queen’s Park has remained silent and the countdown to March 5 continues.

 

 

 

 

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