Chestermere’s chief administrative officer told residents there are many steps left before the municipality will decide whether a developer can turn Lakeside Greens Golf Course into a residential neighbourhood.
Morton's notice came from a statement released by the City of Chestermere on Jan. 29 via the municipality's website and social media channels.
“We are aware that there is already significant community discussion about this proposal, and concerns and opposition to the plan to redevelop the golf course are being expressed,” he said in the statement. “Even at this early stage, we hear you.”
Lakeside Greens, which is located on the west side of Chestermere, has been operating for more than 27 years. But the course's managing partners, Glenn Carr and Wayne McBean, issued a statement last September that the club had signed a partnership agreement with Slokker Homes to redevelop the property, contingent on City council’s approval of a future proposed community.
The issue has led to public backlash from Chestermere residents who do not want to lose the golf course.
In his statement, Morton said it is important residents know there will be a community consultation process and a public hearing regarding the proposal. He said to date, the City has not received a formal application for redevelopment from developer Slokker Homes.
“That is a requirement for a development such as what is being contemplated,” he said. “Also, the City’s administration has an obligation to meet with development proponents, listen to their proposal as landowners, and to process any complete applications for consideration by City council.”
Morton also addressed why council would even consider the proposal, given the large amount of resident opposition it has received. He said City administration has an obligation to process applications, proposals and requests made by developers, and present them to council for consideration and deliberation.
“Simply put, a landowner is permitted to submit such proposals, and requests for land-use changes, and requests for changes to laws or regulations to accommodate a development project,” he said.
Darby King-Maillot, a Chestermere resident whose house backs on to the golf course, has been a staunch advocate against the development. She is a member of the Lakeside Greens Golf Course Preservation Society, which created a petition in opposition to the course's proposed redevelopment.
She said the CAO’s announcement acknowledges the work being done by Chestermere residents who do not want to lose their local golf course.
“We still have a say in this,” she said. “We absolutely can refuse to lose our golf course.”
According to King-Maillot, a press release sent out by the City in September 2020 led residents to believe the deal was a foregone conclusion and there was nothing that could be done. She said the CAO’s most recent statement indicates residents still have a say in the matter.
“Our petition is still rolling along. We are at over 2,800 [signatures], last time I checked,” she said. “We always wanted the petition to be a chance for people to acknowledge what was happening, and make sure we had a loud, clear voice.”
Despite resident backlash, the developer continues to conduct public engagement on the matter. Paula Arab, a media relations strategist with Anstice Communications, which represents Slokker Homes’ partnership with the Lakeside Greens Golf Course ownership group, said they are happy the City is keeping an open mind.
“All we ask is that the community hear us out,” she said. “We have a bigger vision for that land that will benefit all of Chestemere’s citizens and we look forward to sharing that vision with you very soon.”
She said she sympathises with the concerns residents are experiencing in regard to the golf course, but that the golf course has not been profitable in many years. According to Arab, the club’s membership declined 21 per cent in 2020 to just 152 members. The golf course has incurred a substantial capital infrastructure debt and has been operating at a significant and growing loss.
“The golf course is not public land – it is an asset that was created to deliver a profit,” she said. “Keeping the business open long-term is unsustainable and unfortunately no longer an option.”
Arab added the golf course’s owners are committed to engaging with the public and respecting the process as identified by the City. She added an announcement regarding an upcoming town hall is expected soon.