One of Canada’s most famous golf courses is a step closer to heritage protection after a unanimous vote at Oakville’s town council Monday evening.
Council voted to support a heritage designation for the golf course in order to bar any real estate development on Glen Abbey, which has played host to the Canadian Open more times than any other golf course.
The heritage proposal comes amid a plan by owner ClubLink to redevelop the site for a mix of residential and commercial uses.
“It’s absolutely a huge part of the city’s history,” said Shelli Fisico, a member of the Save Glen Abbey group, which is lobbying to save the golf course. “It’s been here for about 40 years and we would like it to stay here for the culture and history and traditions of Oakville and for all of Canada.”
Fraser Damoff, another member of the group, said the community has shown strong support for maintaining the site as a golf course.
“Oakville residents are almost unanimously in support of Glen Abbey Golf Course being protected,” Damoff said. “I’ve heard very few opinions of people who don’t support that. We talk to them and explain that ‘well if Glen Abbey isn’t heritage, then what is’ and after that they kind of come to their senses and support us.”
The 40-year-old golf course was designed by golf great Jack Nicklaus and has played host to the Canadian Open 29 times. The site also hosts The Canadian Golf Museum and Hall of Fame and the offices of Golf Canada.
While the unanimous vote is a step in the direction of a heritage designation, it by no means guarantees the fate of the site. A separate process to approve ClubLink’s redevelopment plan remains on track, with their application set to go before town council on Sept. 29.
“Residents don’t like long drawn-out processes with many steps and that’s unfortunately the way government works,” Mayor Rob Burton told CP24 ahead of the meeting. “That’s Ontario and we chose to live here. People like to reduce things down to something simple, which is ‘say no.’ Well we’re not allowed to do that. What we’re required to do is we’re required to hear all sides and consider all information.”
For its part, the company points out that while activists want to save the course, there is no operating plan for running it as a heritage site.
“If the notice is approved in its current form, without an operating plan, it's our belief that the proposed designation will do the opposite of what the Town of Oakville seems to want to achieve,” ClubLink said in a statement.
The company said they believe that heritage designation “may actually accelerate the end of championship golf on the site.”
- With a report by CTV News Toronto’s Sean Leathong