Judge upholds city's bid to preserve Kanata Golf and Country Club as greenspace

A Superior Court judge has upheld a 40-year-old agreement that could prevent a consortium of developers from demolishing the Kanata Golf and Country Club and turning it into a residential subdivision.

ClubLink, which has owned the club since 1996, filed an application with the city in late 2019 to redevelop the land in the city’s west end. The company says the golf course operation is no longer financially viable and wants to partner with Minto Communities and Richcraft Homes to build more than 1,500 homes on the 71-hectare site.

But opponents of the plan fought back, arguing the proposal violates a 1981 agreement between the city and then-owner Campeau Corp. stipulating that 40 per cent of the Kanata Lakes property, including the golf course, is to be maintained as green space.

The agreement 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 argued the so-called “40 per cent agreement” is no longer legally valid.

Kanata golf screenshot

The city took the developers to court last year in a bid to stop the plan. In a decision released Friday, Superior Court Justice Marc Labrosse sided with the city, writing that the 1981 agreement remains “valid and enforceable.”

In a summary of the 44-page decision, city solicitor David White said the judge also ruled that if the city does take over the land, it does not have to maintain the site as a golf course in perpetuity and could use it for other recreational purposes.

Nearby residents opposed to the developers’ proposal cheered the court’s decision.

“It sends a clear message to ClubLink, Minto Communities and Richcraft Homes, and we hope to all developers that try to skirt the rules,” Barbara Ramsay, chair of the Kanata Greenspace Protection Coalition, said in a statement. 

'Kanata's Green Heart'

“As we’ve said many times, this greenspace is Kanata’s Green Heart. It’s why our residents chose to live here.”

In a message posted on her website, Kanata North Coun. Jenna Sudds called the ruling “a major milestone in our fight against ClubLink to protect our Kanata North greenspace.”

ClubLink officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, ClubLink and the city are also embroiled in another legal battle over the developer’s rezoning application at City Hall.

Councillors rejected the application, arguing the redevelopment proposal is “not compatible” with the surrounding neighbourhood. But ClubLink appealed to the province’s Local Appeal Planning Tribunal last March because the city didn’t rule on the rezoning application within the provincially mandated timeline. A hearing on the matter is slated for January and February of next year.