City planners urge committee to put kibosh on Kanata golf course redevelopment plan

City staff are giving the thumbs-down to a controversial plan to convert a Kanata golf course into a residential development.

A staff report released Monday is calling on the city’s planning committee to reject ClubLink’s proposal to build more than 1,500 housing units on the current site of the Kanata Golf and Country Club. The plan is the subject of a dispute between the city and the developer that went to court earlier this year.

ClubLink is partnering with local developers Minto Communities and Richcraft Homes on the plan that would see slightly more than half of the existing golf course property earmarked for housing, with other parts reserved for open spaces, ponds, parks and new roads.

Kanata golf screenshot

 

ClubLink officials say golf revenues have been falling for nearly a decade and some of the organization’s properties need to be redeveloped in order to remain financially viable.

But opponents say the Kanata proposal violates a longstanding agreement to keep the property as green space. 

A virtual provincial court hearing was held in July to rule on the validity of the decades-old agreement, but the court has yet to issue its decision. Meanwhile, ClubLink appealed to the province’s Local Appeal Planning Tribunal in March because the city didn’t rule on the rezoning application within the provincially mandated timeline. A hearing is slated for January and February 2022.

Staffers are urging the city to fight ClubLink’s plan at the hearing, but the tribunal will ultimately have the final say. In comments attached to the report, Kanata North Coun. Jenna Sudds argued the developer acted in “bad faith” by not responding to technical feedback from the city before launching its appeal.

Public complaints

Staff say the proposal is “not compatible with the existing neighbourhood in terms of lot layout and setbacks” and does not match the scale of development in other nearby streets. The report also lists several other reasons for rejecting the plan, including “several unresolved issues related to creating drainage services to ensure safe, well-drained sites.”

The report says the city has received more than 800 complaints about the proposal from members of the public.

The developers’ original proposal called for up to 1,502 new residential units divided among single-family homes, townhouses and apartments, along with 19.44 hectares of parks, stormwater ponds, landscaped buffers and other open space. 

A revised plan submitted earlier this year boosts the overall number of housing units to 1,544 but reduces the number of front-drive and back-to-back townhouses, replacing many of them with stacked townhouses while raising the number of detached homes from 545 to 630. The overall housing footprint in the new configuration would drop slightly from 37.8 hectares to 36.9 hectares.

A 1981 agreement between the former city of Kanata and the course’s then-owner stipulates that 40 per cent of the Kanata Lakes property is 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 and cannot find another operator or buyer who wants to maintain it.

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.

The planning committee is slated to vote on the proposal at its next meeting on Nov. 26.