ClubLink, developers mum on Kanata Lakes plans as city seeks legal clarity

greenspace
The Kanata Golf and Country Club. Photo via ourkanatagreenspace.ca

Days after the City of Ottawa said it would go to court if necessary to prevent the Kanata Golf and Country Club from being redeveloped, the club’s owners say they have no update on what might replace the 50-year-old course.

ClubLink, which owns the course, announced last December it is joining forces with local developers Minto Communities and Richcraft Homes to find ways to “better utilize” the 70-hectare property. The consortium said it would work with the community and city officials to come up with a new long-term plan for the land.

The news prompted an immediate backlash from Kanata North Coun. Jenna Sudds and many neighbourhood residents. They argue a 1981 agreement between the former city of Kanata and the course’s owner at the time requires 40 per cent of the Kanata Lakes property to be maintained as green space, including the golf course, and gives the city the right to take over the land at no cost if the owners no longer want to operate the course.

ClubLink bought the golf course in 1996; the City of Ottawa took over all legal agreements signed by all former municipalities in the former region of Ottawa-Carleton, including Kanata, when they were amalgamated in 2001.

Last week, city solicitor Rick O’Connor sent a memo to city councillors stating that if ClubLink and its partners submit a redevelopment application, the city would apply to Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice to determine the rights of each party under the 1981 agreement.

O’Connor said he expects the application would require a hearing lasting one or two days, a process that would likely cost the city between $100,000 and $150,000. If the city is successful, he said, it would get one-third to one-half of those costs back, but if the city loses, it would probably be required to cover as much as 50 per cent of ClubLink’s legal costs.

“Both City legal and outside legal counsel have reviewed and are of the opinion that the agreements are enforceable,” Sudds said in a statement on Friday. “Today marks an incredibly important milestone in our fight to keep our greenspace.”

On Monday, a spokesman for the ClubLink-led consortium said the group had “no new information” on the project or when it plans to file a redevelopment application with the city.

Although the developers have not revealed any specific details about their plans, a ClubLink-operated website says the proposals could include “much-needed new housing for families and more functional, high-quality public green spaces, available year-round.”

In an interview with OBJ last month, ClubLink CEO K. Rai Sahi said golf courses are struggling across the country as participation in the sport declines, adding they are “not necessarily a good use” of prime development land.

Sahi said he remained optimistic that both sides will reach “a mutual agreement of some sort.” He said his company would continue to operate the course if it failed to get city approval to redevelop the land.

ClubLink is also embroiled in a legal fight with the Town of Oakville over a plan to replace the venerable Jack Nicklaus-designed Glen Abbey Golf Club with apartment buildings, offices and retail space.

Media reports say the town has spent almost $9 million on legal and consulting fees in an effort to preserve the course, which opened in 1976 and has hosted the PGA’s Canadian Open 30 times.