Vote on Stonebridge golf course takeover could start next week

Some residents of south Ottawa's Stonebridge community are expressing skepticism about the plan to buy a south Ottawa golf course using a community levy.

Some residents wary of deal's fine print

Peter Nikic started Stonebridge Facts to exchange ideas with other people concerned by the idea the community would take over the golf course development. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Some residents of south Ottawa's Stonebridge community are expressing skepticism about the plan to stop the development of the golf course surrounding their homes by getting the city to buy it with a proposed community-wide levy.

While the proposal was generally well-received at an initial presentation in July, there was more criticism and a call for greater transparency and details Monday evening.

Peter Nikic, whose home doesn't back onto the golf course, started a group called Stonebridge Facts to share his concerns with fellow residents.

"You guys are writing this stuff on the back of paper napkins and you're making it up as you go along," Nikic said at the meeting, to a mix of jeers and applause.

Resident Peter Nikic is calling for greater transparency around a proposal to stop the development of Stonebridge golf course that would see the city buy the property with money from a community-wide levy. 1:45

Going into the meeting, Nikic said he's concerned that he hadn't seen a contract with details about out clauses and the long-term management of the golf course.

"What are we going to be obligated to do on top of just paying a golf course tax?" 

Developer Mattamy Homes said as a private business, it can't disclose all the information about the course.

Dawn Wilson said she could see a $400 increase in her property tax bill because of the levy, even though she doesn't back onto the golf course either.

She said she felt consultation had been rushed to push the plan through.

Dawn Wilson (centre) said the plan to buy the Stonebridge golf course using a levy from residents is being rushed. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

"We don't want to be golf course managers or owners," she said.

"There has to be another way to make this work that's better for everybody, not just the people who own property backing onto the golf course."

'The heart of our community'

Jay McLean, president of the Stonebridge Community Association and a member of the working group, said the vote on the levy will be the best way to decide the issue, which has hung over the community for more than a year.

"This is a very divisive issue in the Stonebridge community," he said.

As the plan currently stands, voting could begin next week if approved by city council and the results could be known next month.

He said even those who don't live next to the golf course are implicated in protecting the area.

"The greenspace, whether it's a golf course or not, is the heart of our community. We've talked to many specialists who have reiterated the fact that this is an instrumental component of our property value."

The community association posted an online version of its letter of intent with Mattamy during Monday's meeting, outlining in more detail the terms of the agreement. 

Proposal tweaked

The plan has residents paying a dedicated levy tied to their property tax assessment until the community raises $7 million.

That money would cover the $6 million price of the golf course and money for any transition either to a community-run facility or for the city to turn it into a greenspace.

Golf course owner and developer Mattamy Homes would build 158 homes on part of the golf course as it proposed in June 2018, but the developer would commit to no further development on the property and redesign the golf course so it maintains its current standard.

Mattamy's original plan last year was to take the highlighted area in the southeast corner of the golf course and build homes on it. (Mattamy Homes)

It would also pledge to keep operating the course for at least another 10 years.

The catchment area for the levy was adjusted in early September to exclude about 300 properties that the working group determined were actually in the neighbouring community of Half Moon Bay.



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