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Re-zoning request for part of Cranberry Golf Course concerns neighbours

‘Frankly, one of the reasons we purchased this particular residence was because it had some lovely green space behind it,’ says neighbour
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Two letters sent to the town by Living Water Resort as part of the Official Plan review process has some neighbours of Cranberry Golf Course feeling uneasy about the future.

Currently, the Town of Collingwood is undergoing an Official Plan review. As part of that review, Colin Travis, a consultant acting on behalf of Larry Law, owner of Living Water Resort and Cranberry Golf Course, wrote two letters to former director of planning Adam Farr requesting the town consider rezoning some blocks of land on their property.

The letter says about 22 hectares of the existing 79-hectare golf course has been deemed as surplus. As Travis says the lands are adjacent to existing municipal roads, they are capable of being serviced.

“The characteristics of the neighbourhood around the Cranberry Golf Course tend toward a mix of uses including residential, recreational and commercial,” wrote Travis.

Lachlan MacLachlan lives in Tanglewoods Condominiums in Collingwood, and his property backs onto the 16th hole of Cranberry Golf Course. He also serves on the board for Tanglewoods’ condo corporation.

“There are several concerns as a neighbour of the course. We’re not keen about having a bunch of housing immediately behind us. Frankly, one of the reasons we purchased this particular residence was because it had some lovely green space behind it,” said MacLachlan. “What concerns me is the loss of the ribbon of green that provides an all-season opportunity for people to get out and get some fresh air, exercise and enjoy the wildlife that exists.”

“That to us, is equally as important,” he said.

MacLachlan estimates there are about 20 different condo corporations that back on to various parts of the course. He said he has reached out to residents in all 20 developments surrounding the course to discuss the situation, who he says have also sent correspondence to the town on the issue.

MacLachlan is uneasy about the possibility of what amounts to about 30 per cent of the golf course being converted into some other kind of use.

“The increasing density it could create in this area, it could eliminate... parkland that winds its way around several communities surrounding the course,” he said. “That, in turn, could have an impact on the ecological and environmental issues here, like wildlife.”

The existing Official Plan designates the golf course lands as recreation, and permitted uses are limited to public and private recreational uses.

Lands surrounding the golf course are designated, for the most part, as medium density residential.

According to Travis’ letters, the possible change to the existing 18-hole course is coming from trends in the golf industry that show a decline in use of the facilities and the rising costs of operating full courses.

“These trends are not unusual contributors in the ongoing North American golf industry responses that started several years ago resulting in golf courses closing or golf course re-design among other adjustments,” wrote Travis.

The existing Cranberry Golf Course was designed and built in the mid-1980s. Since then, the golf course has undergone several minor changes reflecting adjustments to layout and play.

“To be clear, Mr. Law is not proposing to close the Cranberry Golf Course,” Travis noted in his letters. “However, the reality of the market has necessitated a review of the golf course product and operations.”

When reached for comment this week, Living Water Resort officials confirmed that no decisions have yet been made in regards to the Cranberry Golf Course, and their submission to the town is intended to aid in the Official Plan review.

Officials also said that any potential future changes proposed for the golf course would still be required to go through a regular proposal and public consultation process with the town, however at this point, nothing has yet been decided.

As part of the Official Plan review, MacLachlan hopes councillors will ask hard questions at the table about which 22 hectares will be included as the surplus, as the specifics are not outlined in the submitted letters.

Collingwood’s Official Plan sets out growth areas in the town and what type of growth can occur in which location. The last big update of the plan occurred in 2004, and the plan is re-visited every five years with some changes made.

Ron Glenn, interim director of planning with the Town of Collingwood, confirmed this week that the town is in receipt of a request from Cranberry Golf Course for consideration of a re-designation as part of the town’s Official Plan update.

“Council referred this request to staff for consideration. Staff will be bring forward a report in the future to address all requests that have been made to date. The request by the Cranberry Golf Course will be part of that report,” he said. “There has been no formal planning application filed with the town to re-designate the Cranberry Golf Course.”

Glenn notes the report is expected to come before council in the fall of 2021.

For more information on Collingwood’s Official Plan review, please check the project web page here or contact: officialplanupdate@collingwood.ca 705-445-1290.

With files from Erika Engel.