The latest proposal to redevelop a Calgary golf course has been approved by city council.
Unlike other recent applications, this one is only for parts of the Hamptons golf course in northwest Calgary — but it has still generated plenty of community opposition.
The owner of The Hamptons Golf Club wants to sell off a portion of the course and had asked city council to approve a rezoning of that land for 64 new housing units.
The city received 2,500 letters and emails opposing the application and numerous people spoke directly to council Tuesday during a lengthy public hearing.
Traffic and parking
Many expressed concerns about the impact of increased population in the area, citing worries about traffic and parking congestion.
But Coun. Andre Chabot thought worries about overcrowding were overblown.
He noted the community's population has actually decreased by 469 people from its peak and the proposal would only add about 204 new residents.
"From a planning perspective, I don't necessarily see the negative impact on the community," Chabot said.
While the proposal would involve the loss of some golf course space, Chabot noted the plan would also create recreational space in the area that would be available to the general public.
Coun. Peter Demong and Mayor Naheed Nenshi cast the only two votes against the proposal.
Demong said he empathized with residents who bought homes in the area thinking the golf course was permanent, but he recognizes that's not a realistic expectation.
"I'm frustrated that people are buying properties in areas that are zoned specifically for golf," he said.
"They buy on the understanding that it's going to stay there forever. Of course that's not true. Nothing stays forever. I realize that it is private property and, by law, absolutely anyone can come forward and ask for a rezoning."
This is far from the first controversy surrounding a golf course redevelopment to come to council, and Demong said the city needs to come up with a better process to deal with the situation.
"I don't believe this is the end," Demong said, noting golf as a sport seems to be on the decline and the demand for land in the city continues to grow.
'I'm really worried'
One of the people opposed to the proposal is Colleen Ngai.
She moved into a new house in the neighbourhood in 1999. It backs onto one of the two holes that the golf club wants to sell for new housing units.
She said she bought a house in the community because she wanted to live on a golf course.
"It's very beautiful for me. It's very calming. Once the weather gets nice, I'm out there every day. Breakfast, working in my garden. Everything," said Ngai.
She expects more houses will mean more traffic in the neighbourhood, more students for the local school and she's concerned about the golf course's drainage plans if there are more houses.
"During the summer, we actually get a waterfall coming off the golf course into my back garden, which I've worked very hard to make nice," said Ngai. "I'm really worried that the mitigation [two new retaining ponds] across the street is not going to be very good."
Re-investment in course
QuantumPlace Developments is handling the rezoning application for the golf club. Its managing principal, Chris Ollenberger, said the opposition from the community is not a surprise.
"It's totally recognizable that lots of people don't really want change, don't want their view to change. They might not want new neighbours, things like that. So we have to do a good job how we work for the planning rationale, how we hear their interests and concerns," said Ollenberger.
The golf club plans to take the proceeds from selling some of its land to re-invest in the golf course. Ollenberger said that reinvestment will include upgrades to the clubhouse at the course.
Golf course redevelopment is nothing new in Calgary.
In the past few years, city council has voted to rezone the former Shawnee, Harvest Hills and Highland Park golf courses for housing projects.
In each case, there was considerable community opposition to the proposals, but council still supported the rezoning applications.
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