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Over the course of this study, our goal is to engage the community as often as possible to get comments and opinions on the study, its findings and options. Creating a frequently asked questions list is one way for the town to share questions that we have received from the public through open houses, emails and phone calls. This page will continue to grow and change as we move through the study. Please visit often to review. You can also visit the Merton Planning Study page for study updates and information.
As the town receives questions, we will post them here under the appropriate group.
The study is a comprehensive review of the lands generally located south of Upper Middle Road, north of the QEW, between Bronte Road and Third Line in order to develop appropriate land use policies for the study area.
The Livable Oakville Plan, which was unanimously adopted by Council, has policies that recognize the Merton lands as a Special Policy Area and require the lands to be studied to determine the long term land uses in this area. The lands are identified in the Livable Oakville Plan as “lands for potential future development”. The town’s policies enable a town facilitated study, involving the Region of Halton, Conservation Halton, and area stakeholders, to ensure the town controls the study process and outcome. The study process will result in land use designations for the study area lands which will add employment and population that will serve towards meeting the town’s minimum intensification targets, as all of the lands are within the existing urban area and the built boundary.
The recent sale of the Saw Whet Golf Course and interest from major landowners in this area to develop their lands has highlighted the need for the town to undertake a study at this time. Completing this study will ensure that there is a comprehensive plan in place with Council approved policies to guide future development.
In the Merton Study area, there are several policy changes occurring at the provincial and regional level including the removal of lands from the Parkway Belt West Plan (further explained in the following section). If and when the Parkway Belt West lands are removed, the town will need to ensure that new land use designations and policies are in its place. The Merton study process provides an opportunity to determine what those land uses and policies should be. By getting ahead of the changes, we have time to properly engage the community and begin the required technical studies in order to establish appropriate land uses and policies.
What will not change through the Merton Planning Study is the Fourteen Mile Creek valleylands. The natural heritage system will be further defined and enhanced through the review of the technical studies. Other natural features will be identified and protected. Existing land uses such as the Mid Halton Wastewater Treatment and the Regional headquarters will not change and will be recognized.
What may change are the limits of the preliminary constraints that have been identified to date within the Merton Planning Study area. Through the review and evaluation of the technical studies by the review agencies and Peer Reviewer, the boundaries will be ground truthed and appropriately adjusted and designated.
What will change are the land use designations over the identified balance of the developable land areas. Saw Whet golf course, for example, will realize new land use policies which may include residential land uses, future roads, parks and possibly a school site, as well as additional protected areas.
No decisions have been made on any of the Merton Planning Study area lands at this time. Decisions on the land use designations and policies are a town Council responsibility based on a recommendation from staff at the conclusion of the Merton Planning Study.
Planning staff co-ordinated a half-day workshop with internal technical staff, Conservation Halton, the Region of Halton and the landowners’ representatives to assess the constraints and opportunities for the Merton Study area. The draft options were developed in the context of the area’s physical constraints (e.g. required distance from the Region’s Mid-Halton wastewater treatment plant), the Livable Oakville defined environmental features and policies, the current policy framework, existing land uses including cultural heritage resources, required public facilities and basic infrastructure requirements as well as consideration for the study objectives.
A fourth option was also prepared and submitted to the town by the Fourteen Mile Creek Resident’s Association and Oakvillegreen Conservation Association. It is the town’s intent to refine the options based on public input and the technical studies to create a preferred plan.
Staff conducted an analysis on the four options based on an evaluation framework as well as a review against town policies and master plans, the technical studies submitted to date, and public comments. This process was used to highlight the attributes in each option to enable a complete community which should be brought forward into a preferred plan.
To evaluate the options, planning staff co-ordinated two half-day workshops with internal technical staff, Conservation Halton, and the Region of Halton to review the four options, identify the key attributes for a complete community to carry forward, and created a draft preferred plan.
The town’s Parks, Recreation, and Library Facilities Master Plan (2012), approved in principle by Council, does not recommend that the town provide municipally owned and operated golf courses or driving ranges. The master plan states that “due to the significant initial investment, large land requirement, and the existence of several public and private golf courses in the community, the provision of golf courses or driving ranges is not an area that the town should pursue at this time.”
The draft preferred plan permits existing uses to continue which includes the Deerfield golf course. In the absence of knowing how much land or what kind of employment land uses may be required, the draft preferred plan for the Merton Lands maintains Deerfield Golf Course as Private Open Space until such time that the Commercial and Employment Land Review is completed.
Please also see the “Open House - March 19, 2014” section of the frequently asked questions for more information.
The Livable Oakville Plan sets out a land use planning framework to direct and manage growth to 2031 based on population and employment forecasts. While growth is intended to be accommodated through development of the existing urban areas, primarily in the growth areas (e.g. Midtown Oakville), the growth forecasts are not absolute or static. Additional growth in the “potential future development” areas identified in the plan will add to the intensification opportunities to be provided throughout the Town. The intention of the study is to ensure that any potential growth can be accommodated in accordance with the policies of the plan to ensure appropriately phased development takes place in the most optimal, cost‐effective and coordinated manner.
The lands are subject to a number of policies under Provincial, Regional and local planning documents. Many of the policies are in transition and also subject to development applications which creates a complex policy framework.
Provincially, some of the Merton Planning Study area lands are currently within the Parkway Belt West Plan (PBWP) and are designated Public Open Space and Buffer Area and General Complimentary Area. Many of the lands that form part of the PBWP are no longer required to meet the plans objectives. As a result, numerous applications have been made in the past to remove parcels of land from the PBWP and place them under local policies for urban uses.
Regionally, the lands are subject to the current Regional Official Plan which designates the lands as Urban Area/Greenlands B/Parkway Belt. However, they also need to be considered under Regional Official Plan Amendment No. 38 (ROPA 38), which is the amendment that brings the Regional Official Plan into conformity with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. ROPA 38 has been approved by Regional Council, and has been approved by the Province. It is currently subject to appeals before the Ontario Municipal Board but not with regard to the Merton Lands. ROPA 38 identifies some of the lands being removed from the PBWP, and being designated Natural Heritage System and Urban Area. The Region has approved a direction for staff to make application to formally remove the PBWP lands (December 2009).
The town of Oakville’s Livable Oakville Plan is in full force and effect. Part of the Merton Planning Study area lands are identified as being within the PBWP on Schedule 1 – Urban Structure Plan of the Livable
Oakville Plan. The Fourteen Mile Creek lands are identified as a combination of Environmentally Sensitive Area/Woodlands/Floodplain on Schedule B – Natural Features and Hazard Lands. In addition, Schedule H – West Land Use designates the lands as Parkway Belt and Private Open Space. Section 26.5, Other Area for Further Study, also identified these lands for potential future development and requires them to be comprehensively studied to determine future land uses and policies.
The Parkway Belt West lands are subject to the policies of the Parkway Belt West Plan (PBWP). The PBWP is a provincial plan that was introduced in 1978. The plan applies to large areas of land throughout the Greater Toronto Area. The objectives of the plan are to:
Many of the lands that form part of the Parkway Belt West Plan are no longer required to meet the plans objectives. As a result, numerous applications have been made to remove parcels of land from the Parkway Belt West Plan and placed under local policies and zoning for urban uses.
Infrastructure Ontario and private land owners have already submitted requests to the province to remove lands from the PBWP within the Merton Planning Study area. The Region of Halton Official Plan, through Regional Official Plan Amendment 38 (ROPA 38), anticipates the removal of the lands from the PBWP and shows the lands as Urban Area. Regional Council has approved ROPA 38 to show the lands outside the Natural Heritage System as Urban Area and has directed staff to remove these lands from the PBWP (Regional Report LPS 114-09). The removal of lands from the PBWP requires the town to provide for a land use designation within its local Official Plan (the Livable Oakville Plan).
No. The Livable Oakville Plan is in force and effect and the Merton Planning Study is not under appeal and is not part of an OMB process. However, some lands near the northern portion of the study area were subject to a motion before the OMB as part of a separate process involving appeals to Regional Official Plan Amendment No. 38. These appeals have now been resolved.
The terms of reference of the technical studies were developed by the town with Regional, Conservation Halton and other applicable agency staff. The required level of study and scope of reports was established and agreed to by the group. The technical studies are being completed by a group of consultants retained by the major land owners in the study area.
Upon completion, the technical studies are submitted to the town for review. The studies are also circulated to Conservation Halton and the Region of Halton for review. The town has also hired a Peer Reviewer (team of 20 scientists and experts) to review the technical work to ensure the studies submitted meet all requirements. Additional work will be required should the study expectations and requirements not be met. Recommendations in the studies have to meet all the requirements set out by the town and its review agencies.
No. The majority of the lands in the study are currently designated “Parkway Belt”. This designation reflects the provincial Parkway Belt West Plan, approved in 1978. The plan was developed for a number of reasons including to reserve lands for future utility corridors such as hydro corridors or highways, as well as to preserve natural areas. Many of the reserved lands under the Parkway Belt West Plan are no longer needed for their initial intended purpose.
In 2010, Infrastructure Ontario made applications to the province to remove the majority of lands in the study area from the Parkway Belt. To reflect the future removal of these lands from the Parkway Belt, the Region of Halton replaced the Parkway Belt designation in the Region of Halton Official Plan with underlying “Urban Area” and “Natural Heritage System” designations to reflect those lands where development could take place, and those lands to be preserved having natural features and forming part of the Natural Heritage System (i.e. Fourteen Mile Creek). These amendments are currently under appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board. In anticipation of the removal of the lands from the Parkway Belt, and to reflect the directions in the Region of Halton Official Plan, the town has policies to complete the Merton Planning Study. As part of the study, the existing Livable Oakville Plan policies are taken into consideration. As such, the natural features identified on Schedule B in the Livable Oakville Plan, which have policies regarding their protection, remain protected.
In addition to the existing Livable Oakville Plan policies which identify the natural features and provide policies for protection, the Merton Planning Study requires a more detailed study be undertaken through an Environmental Impact Study (EIS). The EIS will identify, in greater detail, the features and environmental factors that make up the natural areas which are to be protected from development (e.g. Fourteen Mile Creek and its surrounding valley lands). Features that fall outside of the identified natural areas, such as some individual trees, will be subject to additional examination during site‐ specific development applications. As part of a development application, applicants are required to conduct and submit a tree inventory and tree preservation plan. Town staff review these plans early in the development application process to ensure potential impacts to trees are mitigated to the best extent possible.
No. As part of the study, parkland will not be lost. Langtry Park is the only park within the study area which forms part of the town’s park inventory. The draft preferred plan proposes to maintain the existing park. Additional required parkland has been included in the draft preferred plan policies as part of a complete community.
The westerly lands in the study area (west of Bronte Road) are not part of the Greenbelt Plan, and an application has been submitted to the province to have the lands removed from the Parkway Belt West Plan. Any consideration for development of these lands will be in accordance with the technical studies and the approved policies coming out of the Merton Planning Study.
Yes. Conservation Halton is an integral part of the study process. Numerous staff members are part of the Core Technical Review team that meets on a regular basis to review and evaluate the technical studies.
The Merton study area is approximately 234 hectares. The Fourteen Mile Creek valley system and protected areas are to be further defined through the Environmental Impact Study and technical background work.
No. The areas in the Livable Oakville Plan identified as natural areas on Schedule B, are being maintained and protected. It is the intent of the Merton Study to define the boundaries of the natural areas which are being preserved through the technical studies. This boundary may be adjusted through this study based on the results of the technical studies and the extent to which the natural areas are protected through the use of buffers.
Yes. An east-west connection between the Bronte Creek and Fourteen Mile Creek valley systems is being looked at as part of the Environmental Impact Study and technical background work. The draft preferred plan provides an east-west connection between the two valley systems that goes beyond the natural features currently found on Schedule B in the Livable Oakville Plan.
The Livable Oakville Plan provides for the long-term preservation of natural features and functions through the Natural Area land use designation. This designation applies to a variety of natural features, such as woodlands and wildlife habitat, and provides a required buffer for the features. The required buffer is typically a regulated distance prescribed by the province and administered by the Region of Halton or Conservation Halton and implemented through the town’s policies.
Within the Livable Oakville Plan, the Fourteen Mile Creek and its tributaries are known as a minor valleyland. Minor valleys require a minimum 7.5 metre buffer from the stable top-of-bank as determined through a geotechnical study completed to the satisfaction of the town and Conservation Halton. In addition to required buffers, the Livable Oakville Plan has policies triggering the requirement for a detailed Environmental Impact Study (EIS). An EIS further evaluates the potential impacts of future development on the ecological features and functions in an area. The EIS may recommend mitigation measures, such as increased buffer widths, to demonstrate no negative impacts on the natural feature or its function.
The recommended buffers in the technical studies being completed for the Merton Planning Study will be reviewed by Conservation Halton as well as the peer review team to determine acceptable standards.
The protection of wildlife habitat will form part of the overall protection of the natural areas. The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) has several objectives including the characterization of the natural heritage resources of the study area. A component of this characterization is a detailed inventory of numerous wildlife species. These wildlife species include amphibians, reptiles, breeding birds, wintering birds, mammals, butterflies, dragonflies/damselflies, fish, crayfish and other aquatic invertebrates.
One particular species found in the study area is the Redside Dace. Its habitat is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and its provincial status is endangered. The EIS must take this into consideration when making recommendations for areas of protection.
Cultural heritage is an important feature and is being considered through the study. The study lands contain or are adjacent to listed and designated cultural heritage resources. Properties designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act include the White Oak Tree at 1179 Bronte Road, the Merton Mount Pleasant Cemetery along North Service Road West, and the Hilton Farm at 2013 North Service Road West. Other properties are listed on the heritage register and are considered properties of interest for potential future heritage designation. Any future site‐specific development application on properties containing or adjacent to designated properties will be required to conduct a heritage impact assessment.
The technical studies’ terms of reference requires that a detailed traffic study be completed. The traffic study looks at external factors and adjacent influences which contribute to traffic. A facility like the hospital is taken into account as part of the background transportation input within the traffic study as part of a traffic model.
It is anticipated that trails will be provided on the westerly side of the natural heritage system. The exact location, however, will be determined as part of the EIS process, in consultation with the town’s Parks and Open Space department.
No development can occur until Council has approved an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) which sets out the policies for the future land uses in the study area. The OPA will be the final outcome of this study process. To develop the OPA, the completion of a number of technical background reports is required to inform the creation of policies. The technical reports are extensive and include the completion of an Environmental Impact Study, Area Servicing Plan, Functional Servicing Study, Transportation Study, Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment, as well as Noise and Odour Studies. The scope and technical analysis required by the reports are defined by the town through detailed terms of reference. The technical work is to be completed by individual land owners’ consultants. The town has also hired peer review consultants to review and assess the technical reports to ensure the town, Region of Halton and Conservation Halton requirements are met.
The study process also includes a public consultation process and an evaluation of criteria based on the Livable Oakville Plan policies and the Council endorsed Merton Planning Study objectives.
Development proposals will be subject to additional development applications such as plans of subdivision and zoning by‐law amendments, which will all be subject to further review, analysis and public consultation.
The major landowners are Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and Bronte Green Corporation (BCG). IO owns the lands associated with Fourteen Mile Creek and the Deerfield Golf Course. BCG recently purchased Saw Whet Golf Course. Other landowners include the Region of Halton, the Town of Oakville and private individuals. The Region of Halton operates several facilities on their lands including the Halton Regional Centre, Woodlands Operations Centre, and the Mid‐Halton Wastewater Treatment Plant. The town owns land for a small stormwater facility and also leases some of the lands owned by IO.
Bronte Green Corporation comprises various investors, including Carlo Baldassarra, Chairman and CEO of the Greenpark Group of Companies and Gord Buck of Argo Developments. Bronte Green is a development by Trinison Management Corp. Trinison Management Corp. (division of the M.A.M. Group Inc.) is the land development division of the Greenpark Group of Companies. Trinison Management Corp. is a major developer of master-planned communities throughout Southern Ontario.
Yes. Currently Infrastructure Ontario (IO) has a lease agreement with the Town of Oakville relating to some portions of the IO lands. The lease with the town extends to 2040. There is a provision in the lease agreement that allows the province to enter the lands to examine them at any time. This allows the province to conduct its own studies at any time. The provisions of the lease with the town do not restrict the timing of filing applications to change the land use designations on IO’s property.
Under the lease agreement between the town and IO, there are certain restrictions that apply to a portion of the leased lands over by Third Line. For that portion of the leased lands, any potential changes to the land uses would not be in force until those lands are no longer designated only for Public Open Space and Buffer by the Parkway Belt West Plan, or are deleted from that Plan. In addition, there is a six year notice period, which the province can initiate at any time, before the province can terminate the lease as it applies to those lands. This gives the town time to determine the appropriate future use of the lands through the Merton Planning Study.
Once Council has made a decision on the appropriate land use designations and policies, implementing zoning will be considered either through a Council update to the zoning by-law or through private applications which will be required to conform to its approved policies for the area.
Infrastructure Ontario has requested that all questions relating to their specific land leases be directed to them for response. For more information about Infrastructure Ontario, visit the Infrastructure Ontario website.
Infrastructure Ontario can be contacted here:
Every five years, the town is required to complete a Municipal Comprehensive Review, which is a Commercial and Employment Land Review. The review looks at commercial and employment land across the entire town and examines things such as land supply, demand and market trends. The review makes recommendations which inform the town if new employment land is required and if amendments to its Official Plan policies and land uses are appropriate or warranted.
The Commercial and Employment Land Review would look at opportunities to provide new employment lands throughout the town, including the lands along the QEW corridor on the Merton lands.
In the absence of knowing how much land or what kind of employment land uses may be appropriate, the draft preferred plan for the Merton Lands maintains Deerfield Golf Course as Private Open Space until such time that the Commercial and Employment Land Review is completed.
The town wide Commercial and Employment Land Review is scheduled to commence in summer 2014 and will include public consultation with stakeholders.
The Livable Oakville Plan, which was unanimously adopted by Council, identifies the Merton Lands for potential future development, which should be comprehensively studied to determine future land uses and policies.
The major landowners in the Merton Planning Study area have expressed an interest to develop their lands. This includes applications to remove land from the Parkway Belt. Because the town cannot stop a development application from being submitted, the town has taken a proactive approach to ensure that a made in Oakville policy framework is created to provide for the protection of land and help to manage future growth and change. The increased interest to develop the lands highlights the need to complete a comprehensive study at this time.
Please also see the study scope and overview section of the frequently asked questions for more information.
The Livable Oakville Plan policies provide direction for growth and change. The Merton Lands are located within the “built boundary” which is defined by the Province. Lands within the built boundary are meant to accommodate new development called ‘intensification’. Policies in the Livable Oakville Plan deal with new development in the built boundary as follows:
The Saw-Whet lands were recently and conditionally sold to the Bronte Green Corporation. The ultimate closure of the golf course is dependent on the agreement between Bronte Green Corporation and the operators of Saw-Whet which does not involve the town.
In terms of the timing of any potential development, Town Council will make a decision on the future use of the Merton Lands. A Council decision may be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in which case the OMB will make the final decision for the future use of the lands. Again, any timing of development would be dependent on many factors.
Please also see: “Who is Bronte Green Corporation?”
Please see: “Who is undertaking the technical studies and who is paying for them?”
No. The scientists and experts that have been retained by the developers are independent professional experts in their respected fields. These experts are professionally accountable for their objective recommendations.
To ensure that the technical studies are completed to the town’s satisfaction, the town has retained a peer review team, consisting of 20 scientists and experts, to review the technical work and to ensure the studies that are submitted meet all requirements. The studies are also reviewed by the town, Region of Halton and Conservation Halton staff.
The terms of reference for the Merton Planning Study were developed by the town with regional, Conservation Halton and other applicable agency staff. The terms of reference were received by Council on June 10, 2013 and outlined the approach that would be taken for the study that included the completion of the technical studies by a consulting group to be retained by the major landowners.
The majority of the existing tree canopy on the Merton Lands are within the area designated Natural Area along the Fourteen Mile Creek valley lands. These Natural Areas will preserve the existing tree canopy cover in this area and be protected from development. The draft Official Plan policies also identify that through the development process, tree canopy cover is intended to be replaced.
Town Council could choose to purchase the Merton Lands. To purchase the lands, Council would require a justified purpose for the lands if they are not to be preserved through a natural heritage system. At this time, town staff does not have a rationalization to recommend that Council purchase these lands.
The detailed technical studies submitted as part of a development application would outline how stormwater outputs would be accommodated. The draft Official Plan Amendment provides policies which indicate that the final type, size, and location of stormwater management facilities shall be determined through the development process.
Part of the basis of the Official Plan Amendment to date is the technical reports and peer review comments which have been submitted as per the Merton Planning Study Terms of Reference. Town staff, its agency partners and peer review team have reviewed the technical reports. As of March 7, 2014, there are still areas where additional information and agency comments are required. However, staff has sufficient information in the reports submitted to date to prepare an Official Plan Amendment which recognizes the need to finalize the technical reports based on the peer review and agency comments before any development could occur.
Conservation Halton has been closely involved as part of the technical project team for the Merton Planning Study. They were also involved in developing the study terms of reference. Conservation Halton continues to review the technical studies and provide comments to the town. They are made available when possible.
Please also see: “Is conservation Halton part of the study?”
The technical studies look at the entire Merton study area. Town staff continues to look at what is suitable for the lands.
The Merton Planning Study will not propose to change the zoning on the Merton Lands. Rather, the study is being completed to recommend to Council new Official Plan policies and land use designations which set out the long term vision for the protection of the lands and to guide future growth in appropriate locations.
The zoning on the property will only be amended when a detailed development application to amend the zoning by-law is submitted by a proponent of a development and subsequently approved by Council. Any application to amend the zoning by-law is required to conform to the approved policies in the Official Plan (Livable Oakville Plan) which are being developed through this study.
A development application process, such as a zoning by-law amendment, is a public process and allows for public input and involvement.
ROPA 38 was unanimously adopted by Regional Council in December 2009 and subsequently appealed to the OMB. As an outcome of the hearing, the OMB has issued a series of decisions regarding the partial approval of ROPA 38 to the Halton Region’s Official Plan. Staff have undertaken the Merton study and developed the draft Official Plan Amendment in accordance with the Regional Council approved policies of ROPA 38.
At present, there are no site specific appeals to ROPA 38 on the Merton lands, but some of the plan policies remain under appeal. As those appeals are addressed through the remainder of the hearing process, any implications arising will be addressed in a future report on the Merton Planning Study.
Merton Planning Study Team
Manager, Current Planning – West District
905‐845‐6601, ext. 6042
Senior Planner, Long Range Planning
905‐845‐6601, ext. 3968