‘Save Glen Abbey’ cam­paign mak­ing case at cham­pi­onship

GRASS­ROOTS GROUP

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - TERI PECOSKIE tpecoskie@thes­pec.com 905-526-3368 | @Te­ri­atTheSpec

If you’re head­ing to the Cana­dian Open, there’s a good chance you’ll see them — ap­ple green busi­ness cards tucked un­der wind­shield wipers with slo­gans in a min­i­mal­ist white font.

They ask that you vol­un­teer or like them on social me­dia or sign an on­line pe­ti­tion. Most promi­nently, though, they ask that you save Glen Abbey.

The golf course is the semi-per­ma­nent home of the na­tional cham­pi­onship, hav­ing hosted a record 29 times since it was es­tab­lished in 1976. But, with de­vel­op­ment loom­ing, it’s un­clear how much longer its ten­ure will last.

A grass­roots group, Save Glen Abbey, is try­ing to change that. Here are some key facts about its mem­bers and their goals. Who are they? A col­lec­tion of Oakville res­i­dents, busi­ness own­ers, golfers and Cana­dian Open fans that came to­gether in early 2016 af­ter owner ClubLink’s in­ten­tions to de­velop the prop­erty were an­nounced. Since then, the group has ex­panded to in­clude roughly 30 core mem­bers — a tally that dou­bles at protests, said spokesper­son Fraser Damoff. Nearly 6,000 peo­ple have also signed an on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing on elected of­fi­cials to op­pose the plan by rec­og­niz­ing the site’s her­itage. What are they fight­ing? The pro­posed de­vel­op­ment in­cludes more than 3,200 res­i­den­tial units — a mix of de­tached homes, town­houses and apart­ment build­ings — along with 121,000 square feet of new of­fice and retail space. It also calls for more than half the 93-hectare prop­erty on Dor­val Drive to be ded­i­cated to per­ma­nent pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble green space. Mem­bers’ con­cerns in­clude traf­fic, den­sity and the loss of a piece of the town’s nat­u­ral, cul­tural and sport­ing his­tory. What is the group’s vi­sion? To pre­serve the golf course and re­tain its des­ig­na­tion as pri­vate open space or nat­u­ral area in the case of Six­teen Mile Creek, which runs through the prop­erty. It is also open to find­ing “mid­dle ground” — Damoff’s words — with ClubLink that would al­low for some de­vel­op­ment at the course. For in­stance, the com­pany is al­ready per­mit­ted to build a ho­tel, ban­quet cen­tre and other fa­cil­i­ties un­der the cur­rent zon­ing.

How do they plan to achieve it?

Now that the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board has deemed the de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion com­plete (a de­ci­sion town coun­cil, which is still in the process of study­ing the plan, called “very dis­ap­point­ing”), the group is call­ing for the prop­erty to be des­ig­nated her­itage. That would force ClubLink to ob­tain mu­nic­i­pal ap­proval be­fore de­mol­ish­ing or al­ter­ing the course in whole or in part. Glen Abbey was pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied as a po­ten­tial cul­tural her­itage land­scape in a 2016 town re­port.

Will they be at the Cana­dian Open?

Yes, although they don’t plan to protest or cause a stir at the course. “We don’t want to turn peo­ple’s opin­ions against Glen Abbey and it’s al­ready go­ing to be a traf­fic night­mare,” Damoff ex­plained. In­stead, vol­un­teers will pa­per wind­shields with busi­ness cards in the com­muter lots and sim­ply talk to peo­ple at the tour­na­ment in an ef­fort to ed­u­cate them about the de­vel­op­ment plan.

Glen Abbey hosted its first of 29 Cana­dian Opens in July 1977.

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