Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

The five municipalities where these golf courses are located nevertheless have the right to decide to protect the entire land.

The CMM allows 30% development on protected golf courses

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A regulation now governs the development of 10 golf courses in Greater Montreal.

  • Valérie Boisclair (View profile)Valérie Boisclair

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The Metropolitan Community of Montreal (CMM) modifies an interim control regulation (RCI) which imposed a freeze on activities on certain golf courses in order to now allow cities to authorize development projects on 30% of land .

In order to take into account developments in case law and laws, including recent amendments to the Land Use and Urban Planning Act, the CMM has changed its regulations to now protect a minimum of 70% of the surface area of ​​five golf courses: the Candiac Golf Club, the Mascouche Golf Club, the old Rosemère golf course, the Le Boisé golf club in Terrebonne and the Golf Ste-Rose in Laval.

The bans provided for in the previous RCI will be lifted on the remaining 30%, it is specified. This part of the land could be purchased by the City in order to ensure its protection, or to respond to the housing crisis by developing a residential sector, according to the CMM.

Municipalities, however, retain the possibility of protecting the entire land if they wish.

In 2022, the CMM adopted this regulation to initially protect six golf courses in Greater Montreal coveted by owners for real estate development purposes. During the year, three other courses were added.

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By this decision, any activity aimed at developing the targeted sectors or changing their vocation – by modifying the zoning, for example – was temporarily prohibited, while the CMM decides on the future of these large plots of land.

But since the adoption of this regulation, municipalities have found themselves facing major lawsuits brought by owners of land golf. These requests total $508 million and target four golf courses protected by the RCI.

The owners allege that they are victims of “disguised expropriation,” since this moratorium strips them of their right to enjoy their property as they wish.

Environmental protection is at the heart of this RCI and is part of the objective of protecting 30% of metropolitan territory by 2030 , declared Tuesday the mayor of Montreal and president of the CMM, Valérie Plante.

Members of the CMM Board of Directors also voted to add two new golf courses – the St-Lambert Golf Club and the Country Club of Montreal – under the protection of the RCI.

The former Chambly golf course, formerly covered by the regulation, was however removed from the list on Tuesday. Last week, the City announced that it had reached a tripartite agreement to purchase 70% of the municipal golf course.

To acquire this land and make it “the largest park” in its territory, the municipality will spend $6 million. The remaining part will be intended to accommodate more than 500 homes as well as local shops.

The proportions proposed as part of the agreement concluded by the City of Chambly and newly integrated into the CMM regulations did not come out of a hat: they correspond to those established in a judgment rendered at the CMM ;last fall, at the Superior Court of Quebec.

The case in question, called Sauvé c. Ville de Léry, pitted the owners of land located in the Châteauguay-Léry green corridor against the Municipality of Léry and the MRC of Roussillon, in Montérégie.

Following an amendment to the zoning regulations, the land was identified as an area of ​​wildlife and flora interest. Under the regulations, owners were only allowed to develop 30% of the land, while the remaining 70% had to be dedicated to conservation.

In its judgment, the Court determined that the owners were not deprived of reasonable use of their land and were therefore not victims of disguised expropriation.

For the spokesperson for the Coalition of Golf Courses in Transition (CTGT), Catherine Vallée, the Montreal Metropolitan Community is retreating by giving in to the intimidation tactics of owners who are inflating the amounts of their land.

Disappointed, Ms. Vallée believes that the CMM could nevertheless rely on the modifications made to the Law on Land Use and Urban Planning to better defend these green spaces.

Article 245, adopted last year, stipulates that an infringement of property rights is deemed justified in certain conditions, in particular if the act aims to protect wetlands or bodies of water or if it aims to protect an environment that has significant ecological value.

This article allows us to go much further in the protection of important natural environments […] and also those that need to be restored, believes Ms. Valley. However, the CMM does not even try to test this law in court, she adds.

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The City of Chambly recently concluded an agreement to purchase 70% of the former Chambly golf course.

If some mayors will continue to ensure the protection of 100% of land, others risk opting for the 70/30 proportion to protect themselves, according to the CTGT spokesperson.

She recalls that even if a municipal administration vows to protect 70% of a piece of land, nothing prevents it from changing its regulations to do so. build roads or a school. It's not a lifelong commitment, she summarizes.

The RCI now protects 460 hectares of green spaces, or 442 hectares for the 10 lands covered by the amended regulation and the remaining 18 hectares of the Chambly municipal golf course.

As part of the COP15 on biodiversity, which took place in Montreal in December 2022, the 82 municipalities of the CMM committed to protecting 30% of the natural environments of Greater Montreal from ;by 2030.

The amended by-law will come into force after receiving approval from the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

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