Decision day for Stonebridge residents on golf course deal
Homeowners asked whether they want to pay levy to preserve Stonebridge Golf Club
It's decision day for 3,300 residents of Barrhaven's Stonebridge neighbourhood, who must decide whether they want to kick in to buy a golf course to stave off more development.
If the community votes yes, each homeowner will have to pay an annual levy to $7 million to buy the majority of the property from Mattamy Homes. The developer would still be able to build on a portion of the land, but the rest could remain as a golf course, or be converted to green space.
The issue has been the source of heated debate for weeks, pitting residents who support the purchase against those who don't.
"My biggest hope is that the community can heal," said Peter Nikic, who has been canvassing in the residential community to convince homeowners to vote against the plan.
We've had people screaming at each other in the street.- Peter Nikic, Stonebridge resident
"We're divided, we've had people screaming at each other in the street."
Nikic said he will accept a yes vote if that's what residents want, but he's concerned the process leading up to it has been opaque, with few details about what residents are truly getting for their money.
Mattamy proposed last year to build 158 homes on the land, but retreated amid enormous backlash from residents.
The purchase proposal was developed by a working group including members of the community association, city officials and the developer.
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The purchase would allow Mattamy to build some homes, but would cap further development. It would also redesign the course so Stonebridge Golf Club maintains its "championship" class, and doesn't drop to a lower level.
To do that, residents would need to pay a levy of between $166 and $460 a year, depending on the value of their property. The levy would be applied to each resident's tax bill over the next nine years.
"This vote is what gets them the things that they said they wanted last year," said Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt. "Now it's up to them."
He acknowledged the debate has been fraught with emotion.
"It's unfortunate it's been divisive," Moffatt said. "Any time you're dealing with financial impacts, it's going to be emotional. People are going to be passionate about it on either side of the equation."
Moffatt said he's hoping for good voter turnout before imposing the levy on homeowners.
"There isn't a set criteria, but in my opinion If we only had 10 per cent of the [eligible voters], I wouldn't be in favour," he said.
"It has to be a significant amount of residents in that area that are impacted by this in order to really make a decision."
Moffatt said a no vote doesn't necessarily mean the deal is dead, but residents would only have until March to come up with another way to raise the money.
Most voters mailed in their ballots, but residents can also hand in their vote to the city clerk as long as it arrives by 4 p.m. Friday.
The result will appear on the City of Ottawa website on Saturday.