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Oakville council to debate heritage protection for Glen Abbey golf course

Last Updated Aug 20, 2017 at 12:37 pm EDT

Glen Abbey, one of Canada’s most famous golf courses, could be a step closer to receiving some protection from potential redevelopment into a residential and commercial complex after a town council meeting this week.

On Monday night, the town of Oakville, Ont. will decide whether it intends to designate the golf course – which has hosted the Canadian Open more times than any other – under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Glen Abbey owner ClubLink has proposed development that would see the course become a mix of some 3,200 residential units as well as office and retail space.

Fraser Damoff, a spokesman for the Save Glen Abbey Coalition, a group fighting to stop the development, described the golf course as a “gem” for Canadian golf and part of the town’s identity.

“Oakville as a whole has built around Glen Abbey over the years. It’s been central to the design of the town. Certainly when a lot of people think Oakville, they think of Glen Abbey,” he said.

“As other areas of Oakville were swallowed up by single detached homes, it became more and more important for Glen Abbey to stay as it is.”

ClubLink, the company that owns Glen Abbey and other golf courses in Ontario, Quebec and Florida, did not respond to a request comment.

The movement to protect the course was given a boost after the Canadian Open in July, when winner Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela said he wants the club to stay open.

“I’m going to be one of the biggest voices to keep this course open, especially if I keep winning here,” said Vegas. “I’ll definitely make a statement on trying to keep Glen Abbey going.”

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus designed the course, which opened 40 years ago. The Canadian Golf Museum and Hall of Fame and Golf Canada offices are housed on the site, which has hosted the Canadian Open 29 times and is slated to host it again next year.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton said that intent to designate the property is just one step in the heritage process. A heritage designation means there are rules to be followed when it comes to preserving heritage attributes of a property, but he added that there is still “flexibility” and an appeals process.

Burton, who says he is still undecided on how to vote, said the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey has shown off Oakville to the world.

“That’s a pretty valuable image and stature for the town of Oakville in the global competition for investment and business,” he said, adding that the golf tournament brings in millions in visitor spending.

“It costs us a significant amount of money to host the Open, but we believe that it’s a very good return for our community.”

Oakville town council will be considering ClubLink’s application to redevelop the golf course on Sept. 26.