The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) decision (read here) regarding the proposed development of the Kanata Golf and Country Club by ClubLink came out at the end of March and we have spent the last few days reading it over and getting our City legal staff’s thoughts on it. These decisions are always lengthy and complicated, but we would like to try to condense it for you in a few words and then explain further.
In short, the OLT adjudicators ruled that technically and theoretically, the golf course can be built on… if you only look at what the Planning Act allows. That was not surprising. We have always known that. However, the good news is that practically, and in reality, there are almost endless and significant conditions that would have to be met. It would be difficult to understand why any builder would want to go down that road. The OLT decision laid the challenges out for ClubLink in the “conditions” listed in its appendices 1 and 1A of their ruling.
I thought it might be helpful for everyone to understand all of the hurdles/roadblocks I have been advised of:
Court Decisions Pending – The OLT highlighted that the matter is still before the courts with only two clauses being removed from the 40% agreement. The majority of the 40% agreement is still intact which makes it clear that the golf course will have to remain a golf course. Both the lower court judge and the Supreme Court of Canada still have to offer their thoughts on what the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled.
The OLT indicated that it has no jurisdiction over what happens with both of those court proceedings.
In addition, the Kanata Greenspace Protection Coalition has initiated its own court action against ClubLink based on the restrictive covenants that are clearly laid out. A housing development would be in violation of the restrictive covenants.
Storm Water/Drainage – There is still not an acceptable Storm Water Management plan acceptable to the City. The OLT suggested that ClubLink come up with one. They haven’t done so yet. That is clear to everyone. And, the City will not give approvals until an acceptable Storm Water Management (SWM) plan is produced and approved. Important to note here, the KNL development (sections 7 & 8), further north of the area, has not been able to come up with an acceptable SWM plan in the past 10 years and their lands are to drain to the same area.
Major Infrastructure Requirements/Approvals – In order for a SWM plan to be acceptable, where water from the golf course lands could drain right out to the Ottawa River, storm sewers, sanitary sewers, drainage pipe (that currently runs under City-owned and NCC-owned land) and major infrastructure would need to be replaced. The City is under no obligation to replace its drainage infrastructure out to the Ottawa River through the Kizell Drain and has no plans to. If the City says “no” to pipe and infrastructure changes, the matter ends there. If the City’s real estate division, whose land would have to be accessed, says “no,” the matter ends there.
NCC Approval – Where land that would be affected is NCC land, the NCC would have to give its approvals. Whenever the NCC does not give its approval, the project does not go forward. In addition, downstream users of water that originated on the golf course (after years of pesticides, fertilizers and fungicides) have to be protected. The NCC would have jurisdiction over drainage that would affect everyone who uses the Ottawa River as a water source. That is pretty much everyone in the City of Ottawa (except those on wells) and all others, downstream.
Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority Approval – Wherever natural habitats are disrupted, or environmental impacts are possible (and for all things regarding storm water management), the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) would have to give its approval. If the MVCA is not satisfied, projects do not go forward.
On a related note, I just listened to the results of the Blanding’s Turtle population in the South March Highlands (declining) and heard from the researchers and City staff that the environmental protections we now have in Ontario, that we did not have when the KNL developments were approved, are much more stringent, thank goodness. The MVCA approvals that would be required (as noted in the ruling) make any development approvals subject to stringent conditions.
Municipal Powers – If all of the above conditions were to be met, the City, under the provisions of the Provincial Planning Act, has the power to grant or not grant building permits, site plan approvals, road allowances, drainage permits…the list is almost endless.
In summary, the OLT ruling this week was extremely helpful as it laid out for all to see exactly how many conditions/hurdles/roadblocks there are that make building on the golf course theoretically, but not practically, possible.
If you have any questions or would like to chat further about the issue or the ruling, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Councillor Cathy Curry