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Residents warn of traffic, habitat loss with Wasaga Beach course development

Residents living around a local golf course turned out to a public meeting in force to speak against a residential project they say will lead to the “mutilation” of the course.

At a June 26 meeting, Wasaga Beach town council heard concerns regarding zoning and official plan changes that would allow the owners of Marlwood Golf and Country Club to build 65 single-family homes along Golf Course Road and on the course.

The homes, built in two phases, would require the course to be altered — though it would remain an 18-hole course.

Residents have been lobbying against the proposal for more than a year, citing the course’s heritage, and .

About a dozen residents gathered outside council chambers ahead of the meeting with signs protesting the project.

Inside, it was standing room only as about a dozen spoke on the matter, most opposed.

“Council must abide by this (covenant) … therefore you should not be able to do any changes to the zoning,” said resident Fred Klausner, who says. Klausner also received a legal opinion stating that the restrictive covenant is still in force.

Frank Steele lives on the cul-de-sac at the end of Masters Lane, overlooking the 17th fairway — but would be looking out at a row of homes should the development be approved.  

He read a letter from one neighbour concerned about additional traffic, and cautioned that permitting the development would result in “mutilating the design to accommodate housing (and) will diminish the value and attraction the course will have to this area.”

“It is a golden nugget to Wasaga Beach,” Steele said. “Keeping it open space and designating it as a historic asset, preserving it for future generations, would be a good start.”

Steele also read the opinion of his own planning consultant, noting the project is not consistent with provincial planning policy, and will have a negative impact on the environment and wildlife.

The planner for the project, Kristine Loft, told council that the impact on habitat was still being reviewed, and further study was being done to determine the potential presence of several species-at-risk, including the Blanding’s turtle, and the Eastern Hog-nosed snake.

One resident, however, sounded a note of caution to those who were opposed to the project.

Jim Grant, who noted he was also employed at the course for 10 hours a week, said while the residents may be concerned with the impact on the environment, the construction of their homes at one time was habitat.

“I empathize with the people who are applauding against this, but the reality is you cannot stop progress,” Grant said. “Be careful what they wish for, because (the owners) are trying to keep this as a golf course.”

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