By Joe Konecny
Kettle Creek Golf and County Club has lodged an official objection to a proposal to change Central Elgin’s Official Plan (OP).
The proposal would modify the OP designation for all golf courses, cemeteries and municipal parks to ‘community facility’ from ‘residential.’
If approved when Council finalizes the Official Plan on August 18, 2022, redesignation jeopardizes the county club’s plans to build 79 detached dwellings and 18 semi-detached dwellings on a 12.8-hectares section of its property fronting on Lake Line in Port Stanley.
“On behalf of our client, just like to express his objection to the proposed redesignation of his lands from ‘residential’ to ‘community facilities’, and to formally request that his lands remain in the residential designation,” Jay McGuffin, of Monteith Brown Planning Consultants, in London, told councilors at a July 20, 2022 online public meeting. McGuffin was speaking in behalf of James Glover, owner of the popular golf course on Carlow Road. McGuffin and Glover met privately, earlier in the day to review the redesignation with officials from Central Elgin, Elgin County and Kettle Creek Conservation Authority.
“As a result of a significant decline in golf in Ontario in the past two decades, our client has identified a need and an opportunity to redesign his course and provide for infill lifestyle residential development on municipally serviced lands that are already inside the settlement area boundary and include a lifestyle golf course redesign,” added McGuffin. “Our client is proposing a development plan to include a mix residential development on a portion of the subject property that will include a realigned and redesigned smaller golf course.”
Instead of permitting residential development, an OP community facilities designation reserves land use “ … for indoor and outdoor recreation, leisure, conservation and public works purposes … ”. It “may also include regional parks and accessory buildings including a community centre; recreational areas; public works facilities and other municipally owned lands, and historically established cemeteries and golf courses that exist within settlement boundaries.”
Central Elgin is proposing the OP policy change in response to consultants’ reports that forecast the municipality has an over-supply of residential real estate within its boundaries.
“While the municipality has experienced record growth in recent years, preliminary analysis shows that there is an oversupply of designated residential land within settlement areas,” according to a report penned by planner Kevin McClure and presented to Council on March 28, 2022. “Much of this oversupply can be attributed to land use designations that were carried over as part of the (1998) amalgamation of the Village of Belmont, Township of Yarmouth, and the Village of Port Stanley to create the Municipality of Central Elgin.
“To address some of the current oversupply concerns, a few revisions have been proposed at this stage to address lands that are currently designated for residential use but would require substantive land use planning approvals or other processes to permit residential use,” McClure’s report continues. “These include recommendations to change the ‘residential’ designations of the St. Thomas Golf and Country Club, the Kettle Creek Golf and Country Club, and cemetery lands that exist within settlement boundaries, to a ‘community facilities’ designation.
“The draft policies that have been prepared for the Official Plan reflect this approach,” added McClure. “Based on Watson and Associates figures to 2046, preliminary calculations show that the Municipality currently has an oversupply of approximately 107 hectares of residential land.”
Redesignation is likely to contribute to the cost and time of redevelopment plans, as Glover’s only way forward would be an Ontario Land Tribunal challenge. The OLT is a Provincial tribunal – descendant of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) and the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) – that adjudicates municipal land use disputes.
McGuffin suggested there is some urgency in Glover’s objections, as “there is a very real and reasonable prospect of long-term use for residential purposes on these lands and there is a significant prospect of a change in the very near future for these lands.” Earth-moving equipment is already on the site.
After the meeting, Central Elgin’s Director of Asset Management and Development Lloyd Perrin said: “In October 2021 an application for subdivision was received after many years of consultation between the owner and the municipality for lands that lie north of the Kettle Creek Golf and Country Club.
“Central Elgin staff are awaiting information from the applicant that was requested in early 2022. This supporting information is required prior to the application being able to move forward,” added Perrin. “To clarify, no application has been received to date for the redevelopment of the Kettle Creek Golf and Country Club.”
Central Elgin has forecast its population will increase to about 18,200, up 4,200 people over a 25-year period from 2021 to 2046. It is also projected that the municipality will require 2,225 housing units over the 25-year period to meet growth expectations, with about 73 per cent low density units, nine per cent medium density, and 18 per cent high density. Central Elgin has established an affordable housing target of 20 per cent, or about 445 units in that period.