Mayor's statement on Bronte Green settlement proposal

Mon, 28 Nov 2016

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton issues the following statement regarding the town's settlement regarding the BronteGreen development proposal:

"Members of Council have been asked lots of questions about the recent Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) settlement that was reached with Bronte Green on the development of the former Saw-Whet Golf Course. I know how much the community cares about this issue and I assure you that Council does, too.

"I wholly understand the desire to outright block development on this land. The town had hoped that the province’s 'working landscapes' policy would provide us with the ability to save the Saw-Whet lands as part of the town’s extensive natural heritage system.  However, as it turned out, this policy did not apply to golf courses.

"Faced with an OMB hearing as a result of an appeal by Bronte Green, Town Council unanimously passed and made public the following resolution at a Special Meeting of Council on April 8, 2015; “That counsel be instructed to attend the OMB proceedings to oppose the applications as being premature and not in the public interest using an evidentiary-based approach.”

"The town identified the need for studies to preserve environmentally-sensitive lands and strengthen the protection of wildlife within this development. However, after exploring every option available, our planners, lawyers and expert witnesses told us that given the existing policies in place for this site, there was absolutely no way to legally stop all of the Bronte Green development once the required studies were complete. (i.e., Council could not 'Just say no' to this development.).

"Our legal counsel registered dozens of issues with the OMB to ensure that the development of these lands would be limited to what fit for the community and the environment.

"The developer responded by presenting a settlement offer on a confidential basis in which they gave in on all of the town’s issues. Settlement discussions have to be conducted in confidential session when an appellant offers a settlement on a confidential basis. In camera sessions are also required when discussing confidential legal strategies.

"At the insistence of the town, the developer was also made to complete significant extra technical work that was thoroughly reviewed and evaluated by expert witnesses for the town, the Region of Halton, Conservation Halton and the Halton District School Board before the settlement could be reached. As a result of all of this work,  17.46 ha or 32 per cent of the total site, will come into public ownership, the majority of which consists of natural heritage areas that have been saved from development.

"Council did not want to risk allowing the OMB to dictate the terms of the development. Voting to reject the settlement would mean a worse outcome for residents and the loss of more greenspace.

"The settlement is now with the OMB awaiting final approval. The town thanks the participants from the community who submitted their views to the OMB on the Bronte Green plan, either in June or this week.

"If you want to learn more about the details of this settlement, please review the Bronte Green Settlement FAQ. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or your local councillor if you have any further questions or concerns.

"I would also encourage residents to make their voice heard in our fight for OMB reform. The province is currently considering OMB reforms, and many being recommended would give residents and municipalities a stronger voice on issues like this. If you have the time, do check out the Ontario Municipal Board Review on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs website. Comments are due by December 19, 2016."