Saw Whet: A Bad Outcome from a Flawed Process

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For immediate release: November 16, 2016

A bad outcome from a flawed process: how Livable Oakville just became a lot less Livable

Development has won another battle in gobbling up Oakville green spaces. The Town of Oakville and Halton Region have just backed down in their efforts to enforce a natural space zoning in their own official plan. As we sift through the documents just released, it appears that the Town has given approval for 1000+ residential units, on an area where the original application only contemplated 700 odd units.

Oakvillegreen had been hopeful, and even confident, that science and broad municipal opposition, would prove that the Saw Whet Golf Course lands were the wrong area to develop and clearly required protection. “We are angry and disheartened that environmentally sensitive greenspace and nature will once again lose out to developmental pressures”, said Karen Brock, President of Oakvillegreen. The “zone it, don’t own it” strategy used by the Town has proved ineffective in preserving greenspace.

The question we are now asking is: Why did the Town of Oakville settle when the Saw Whet area was NOT identified in the Official Plan as an area targeted for growth?

Municipalities with a solid Official Plan should be able to choose, where they want development. The proposal to develop Saw Whet was widely opposed by Oakville citizens and the Town Council. Once again, the municipality’s wishes appear to have fallen to defeat in the face of an Ontario Municipal Board review. It is unclear and frustrating to us why the Town settled. It is hard to imagine a worse outcome from the OMB than the recent settlement reached by all parties.

The Town will talk about ‘environmental wins’ and percentages of space protected, but we believe they are putting a brave face on a big loss.

The Saw Whet Lands are an integral part of the Fourteen Mile Creek Valley and catchment area, which has been identified as an Environmentally Sensitive Area. Scientific alarm bells went off everywhere with the first mention of developing the golf course lands. There was even a scientific recommendation years ago to ADD to this environmentally sensitive area in order to protect this habitat and its numerous endangered species. This development approval becomes a case of death by a thousand cuts. No amount of mitigation efforts will ever preserve this sensitive valley now.

We are all daily witnesses to the results of climate change and environmental degradation. There is a scientific consensus that greenspaces and their ecosystems provide immeasurable benefits yet we continue in a downward spiral gobbling up valuable greenspace for private sector profit.

Which greenspace is going next?

Amid the noise of the Bronte Green application, we can see that through this settlement, the Bronte West Lands, an area on the west side of Bronte Road and part of the Bronte Creek watershed, have also been approved for development.

The net result: a large area zoned Parkway Belt and Natural Area is being developed.

Shoe-horning over a 1000 + residential units and commercial buildings on a sensitive greenspace, and calling yourself Bronte Green is a gross act of “greenwashing”.  The only green they can be referring to is the colour of the money lining their pockets.

More importantly, what does this decision and flawed process mean for the fate of Deerfield Golf Course and Glen Abbey Golf Course?

This is a case of another developer victory. A broken process reaches a flawed result. The winner: The developer, the bully with deep pockets. The loser: Nature and the wildlife and humans who rely on it.

What can you do?

Let the politicians know how you feel:

The Town of Oakville is holding an open house for participants to ask questions with respect to the revised plan on Thursday November 17th from 6-8pm at Town Hall, 1225 Trafalgar Road.

Tell the Ontario Provincial government that you want Municipalities to be able to have the final say in their land use planning. Contact Yasir Naqvi, the Attorney General of Ontario, to tell him the OMB needs to be eliminated or reformed:

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For inquiries please contact Karen Brock, President, Oakvillegreen Conservation Association or via: 289-813-1568



Photo credit: Forest adjacent to Fourteen Mile Creek, David d’Entremont