Greenspace Gripes

by Nov 29, 2019

The Kanata Golf and Country Club in September, 2019. Photo by Sharanya Tharmarajan.

Kanata residents aren’t sure the grass is greener when it comes to plans for local golf course.

For Kanata Lakes residents there has been one consistent woe for the last year: the threat of the 70-hectare golf course at the heart of their community being turned into a mix of houses and apartment buildings.

Last December, ClubLink, who owns the Kanata Golf Course, said it was looking at working with Minto Communities and Richcraft Homes to replace the golf course with housing. In October they filed an official application to the city.

Haleigh Johns grew up in Kanata Lakes, enjoying the golf course in her backyard. 

My family is impacted by ClubLink selling the course because it would greatly change the lifestyle of living in Kanata that we’ve enjoyed for over 20 years,” she said. 

“The greenspace provided by the golf course allows residents of Kanata to toboggan, ski, and snowshoe in the winter in a way that isn’t possible without this vast greenspace. Also, (our) property value would decrease if we no longer had a property backing on the course.”

Kanata North Coun. Jenna Sudds understands community members’ concerns. 

“People have made critical life decisions in purchasing a home in this community,” she said. “People who aspire to be around nature and (the golf course) greenspace have either moved in the vicinity or made use of this space on a regular basis.” 

Sudds has been the public face of the fight against the golf course. She has met with residents in her office, knocked on doors and held meetings.

In the last year, she has been the community’s No. 1 source on what’s going on at City Hall, where officials have been mulling their options to safeguard the greenspace. 

Last month the city put the golf course application in front of the Ontario Superior Court in an effort to force ClubLink to withdraw its proposal or give up the land to the city.

“I realized … very quickly how harmful this proposal was for our community,” said Sudds. “So ever since I have been working to oppose that.”

The Kanatagreenspace Instagram page, run by members of the community, showcases the beauty and different uses of the golf course. The picture above shows Kanata residents enjoying the golf course greenspace even during the winter months.

The forty percent agreement

Today, the 18-hole golf course anchors the neighbourhood.

“The Kanata Lakes community was designed around the golf course,” Sudds said. “This was part of the master vision for this part of the city and it was solidified via a legal agreement.”

In the 1980s, the original land developer, Campeau Corp. signed the “Forty Percent Agreement” with the City of Kanata, ensuring 40 per cent of the land in the Kanata Lakes area remains as greenspace. ClubLink’s plans would not comply with the agreement. 

For Sudds, that means residents have a fight they can win. 

Graphic illustration by Sharanya Tharmarajan. Produced on Canva.

Continued public outcry

In a public meeting held with ClubLink on Nov. 25, community members were able to ask questions and voice their concerns to the company. If realized, ClubLink’s proposal would see more than half of the golf course turned to residential units, while the rest of the land would become roads, storm water ponds, smaller parks and open spaces.

Following the meeting, participants took to the Kanata Greenspace Protection Coalition Facebook community to express their frustrations. The group advocates for the conservation of greenspace in Kanata. 

Kanata resident Joanna Huang is a member of the Facebook group who expressed “utter disappointment” in regards to the community meeting.

“Not only did the panel of so-called experts provide us with inadequate answers, but they also did not demonstrate that they recognize – never mind care about – essential characteristics of our community,” she said, in a Facebook message in a Facebook message.

She went on to say that ClubLink’s ““absurd proposal” would bring more cars, disruptions and permanent damage to the existing community. 

ClubLink’sClubLink’s proposed storm water ponds ponds did not impress her either. 

“No one wants to swim in storm water ponds! So the community is left with a measly portion of scattered greenspace,” said Huang.

Resident Neil Thomson said he’s concerned about the City of Ottawa’s future development plans. 

“It’s unfortunate that the City of Ottawa is putting greenspace as a much lower priority to densification of new and existing neighborhoods.” 

Thomson said that he believes this is the reason why the owner of the golf course thought the city would potentially approve redevelopment plans.   

“I don’t agree with turning the City of Ottawa and it’s green heritage into a super dense ‘gray’ mega city of concrete,” he said. 

“It degrades the quality of life.” 

At the time of publication, ClubLink could not be reached for comment.

While the future of the land is still open, Sudds continues to fight for her community members. 

“For me success is them revoking their application or walking away from it and the city taking on the ownership,” Sudds said. “Success is the greenspace saved.”