‘Save Glen Abbey’ campaign making case at championship
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.