Former golf courses | Groups call for a new approach

Invoking the climate crisis and biodiversity decline, about fifty groups of citizens across the county have asked Legault’s government to suspend the conversion of former golf courses into residential neighbourhoods. They say preserving it is an “opportunity not to be missed”.

Posted at 5:00 am

Eric-Pierre Champagne

Eric-Pierre Champagne

Stop zoning changes

In a letter sent on March 7 to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andre Laforest, more than 50 citizen groups asked the government to adopt a moratorium on changing zoning and the use of former golf courses. Climate and biodiversity crises combined with the epidemic are having important new implications for land use planning. Olivier Delorme, chair of the Citizens Committee of Laval West, wrote. “There will be no turning back if we allow the destruction of these precious natural environments that are still vegetated and provide many ecosystem services,” he adds.

Golf is less popular and less popular

In recent years, many golf clubs have ceased operations due to a lack of players to ensure their profitability. In Greater Montreal alone, 12 clubs have closed since 2010, according to a group produced by the Montreal Metropolitan Community (CMM).

Map provided by the Montreal Metropolitan Society

At least 12 golf clubs have closed since 2010 in Greater Montreal.

These 12 plots covered 657 hectares, nearly three times the area of ​​Mount Royal Park. Most of these closures paved the way for residential zoning projects. This phenomenon is not only regional. In Canada, 158 golf clubs ceased operations between 2010 and 2015, while 21 new 18-hole courses opened.

Very popular among real estate developers

In the Saint-Laurent neighborhood, Le Challenger Golf Club ceased operations in 2011. Since then, an entire neighborhood has been built on much of the 83-hectare old course, which was sandwiched between Cavendish Street and Route 117.

  • Le Challenger golf club, in the Saint-Laurent district, in 2007

    Image from Google Earth

    Le Challenger golf club, in the Saint-Laurent district, in 2007

  • The neighborhood was set up on the site of the former Le Challenger golf club, in 2020

    Image from Google Earth

    The neighborhood was set up on the site of the former Le Challenger golf club, in 2020

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In Carignan, part of Le Riviera Golf Club has been replaced by a residential subdivision project. Recently, a portion of Le Cardinal golf course in Laval was sold to a property developer who plans to build 700 homes there. However, in many other municipalities, the fate of former golf courses still hangs in the air. This is particularly the case in Rosemère, Terrebonne, Brossard and Chambly.

Waiting for the next strategy on land use planning

The Alliance of Golf Courses in Transition, the Citizens Committee of the Laval-Coy Region, Meres or Front and many other groups are asking Minister LaForest to suspend changes in the division and use of old golf courses, particularly until the new National Strategy adopts urban planning and regional development. Citizens also want to have expropriation law They are reviewed so that “municipalities can acquire old golf courses at a fair market value”. However, nothing indicates that the minister will pursue the moratorium request. Its press officer, Benedict Trotier-Lavoie, noted via email that “a zoning adjustment is the prerogative of municipal councils. The latter are free to receive, or even refuse, any modification requested by a third party.”

Elected officials are also asking Quebec to intervene

Citizen groups are not the only ones calling for regional intervention. The Migrant Resource Center in Thérèse-de-Blanville, in the North Crown, decided to “call on the Government of Quebec for a national strategy aimed at protecting green spaces, including relocation to former golf courses.” The Council of Mayors has also decided that it will not respond to a request to change the use of the former Rosemère Golf Course. Note, however, that the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing rejected the first request to that effect that the MRC made last fall. However, the town of Rosemere rejected a zoning project submitted by the new owners of the former golf course. A group of Rosemère citizens is demanding the city convert at least 88.5% of the golf course into a park.

“Strict” rules are required

By 2031, the MWC should in principle have protected 17% of its land. However, the protected area has remained stagnant at 10% for several years. A recent study by Statistics Canada revealed that the majority of major Canadian cities, including Montreal, lost green space between 2001 and 2019 due to urbanization. In their letter to Minister LaForest, citizen groups noted that “in many municipalities, the commercial and industrial wasteland available for redevelopment is sufficient to meet demographic projections for the coming decades. These sites must be prioritized in order to protect our last green spaces. They concluded that without strict rules To preserve it, many municipalities, in search of new tax revenue, will allow construction on old golf courses before considering other places more suitable for sustainable development.

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    Of the 12 golf clubs that have closed since 2010, 11 were located within the urban perimeter of Greater Montreal. According to the Metropolitan Society of Montreal, “most conversions involve residential redevelopment.” In addition, of the 65 golf courses still operating, 30 are located within the perimeter of urban expansion

    Source: The Metropolitan Society of Montreal

    Nearly half of all golf clubs still operating in 2017 were losers.

    Source: Statistics Canada

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