January 29, 2021
In 2020, the Lakeside Greens Golf Course announced that they had partnered with Slokker Homes to explore the sale of the golf course for the purpose of converting it into a new housing development.
In September, 2020, I issued a statement to the community explaining my concerns as the City’s CAO and that:
“The lands are designated for parks and open space use in the Municipal Development Plan. At this time, the City has not received a formal proposal from the Lakeside Partnership, but the plan described in the announcement is currently not permitted under local and provincial regulations. Any proposal to redevelop lands in a way that is different than their current designated land use would require significant changes to local laws.”
Late in 2020, our City’s Community Growth and Infrastructure team (Administration) met with project representatives to better understand their intentions, and to share our concerns. To date, a formal application for redevelopment has not been received by the City, but we do anticipate that the applicant will likely be coming forward with a concrete proposal and application soon.
We are aware that there is already significant community discussion about this proposal, and concerns and opposition to the plan to redevelop the golf course are being expressed. Even at this early stage, we hear you.
In terms of process, it is important for all residents to know that there will be a community consultation process and Public Hearing; that is a requirement for a development such as what is being contemplated. Also, the City’s Administration has an obligation to meet with development proponents, listen to their proposal as land owners, and to process any complete applications for consideration by City Council.
Administration also has an obligation to provide a professional opinion and recommendation to City Council when the complete application is processed, and is presented to them. The sharing and hearing the views and opinions of residents is an important part of the process. In considering any such redevelopment application and land use changes, City Council considers the views and opinions of residents, the application and requests from the developer, and recommendations and professional opinions from Administration.
At this time, you may be wondering: why is the City or City Council even considering this proposal if a large number of residents are sharing their opposition in these early stages, and the proposal is expected to contravene many existing regulations and laws? Great question. Simply put, a land owner is permitted to submit such proposals, and requests for land use changes, and requests for changes to laws or regulations to accommodate a development project. And, City Administration has an obligation to process complete applications, the proposal and requests made by a developer, and present them to City Council for consideration, deliberation, and ultimately a decision.
In their role as elected officials, City Councillors, at this early stage (which is prior to a formal application or consideration submitted to them for a vote), must remain neutral. Again, as there is no formal application or request before them. There is nothing to decide. Therefore, they have a duty to respect the formal process and have an open mind. This does not mean ignoring the voices of the residents. It means hearing those voices and applying them towards the formal requests for redevelopment once it is presented to them for consideration. At this point, we don’t have an application or anything for Council to decide. Yet.
Once there is a complete application, and the community consultation, engagement, and Public Hearing process is completed, City Council must thoroughly review and consider any request for changes by the developer and landowner. This includes proposed changes to their policies or laws, any impacts these changes may have on the community, the rationale for the proposed changes, the benefits to the community, and the opinions shared by community members. All must be considered, reviewed, and fairly balanced as part of the decision-making process.
In conclusion, should the project representatives submit an application to redevelop the golf course, which we fully expect to happen at some point in 2021, rest assured that all required steps will be followed. The developers will have to follow processes and applications will need to be complete. Residents will have ample opportunity to be part of the formal public consultation, engagement and Public Hearing process. City Council will have all of the important information before them to make an informed decision.
As the City’s CAO, during these early stages and without having received a formal application, I have concerns about a plan to redevelop the golf course because it doesn’t comply with various regulations and laws of our City. These would either have to be complied with, or laws changed by City Council, at their discretion, to accommodate any redevelopment.
We will continue to provide updates on this important topic.
Chief Administrative Officer
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