SWG Proposed Solution – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Last Modified: October 8, 2019
Based on the EXTENSIVE community feedback we have received to date via open house Q&A sessions, the community survey, in-person meetings, SCA email, SCA website, phone, and social media (Facebook and Twitter), the Stonebridge Working Group (SWG) has compiled a list of FAQs regarding the proposed solution. Stay tuned for more FAQs as we continue to receive feedback.
Released October 8, 2019
1. Why the special community levy? And why now? Why is it important to Vote Yes?
The Stonebridge Working Group (SWG) has been working with Jack Stirling, the facilitator contracted by the City of Ottawa (City), to find a solution between the Stonebridge Community residents and Mattamy, the landowner, to preserve 198 acres of golf course lands as either golf course or passive green space.
Mattamy currently owns the golf course lands and, as such, has all the rights of private ownership as the titleholder. This includes the right to bring a series of applications to the City to change the use of the lands and develop all of the lands for residential purposes. If that were to happen, only 5% of the land (9.9 acres out of 198 acres) would remain green space.
By acquiring ownership of or control over the lands, the Community will be able to ensure that the lands remain as either a golf course or green space. At the time of acquisition slated for 2029, the Community will have the power to decide whether to become the titleholder of the lands or whether to ask the City to be the titleholder and lease the lands back to the Community on a long-term lease.The levy provides Mattamy and the Community with the certainty that the funds will be available to acquire the golf course lands. Mattamy recognizes a YES vote for the levy as proof of secured funding.
If Mattamy does not obtain proof that the Community will have the funds necessary for the acquisition by May 1, 2020, the proposal will be taken off the table. Mattamy will then be free of commitments to the Community and will be in a position to file applications for any parts of the golf course it so chooses to develop.
Other than the Levy, an alternative means has not been found to ensure with certainty that the funds required for the purchase of the golf course lands will be available in due time for the acquisition of the lands.
2. Why is saving the 198 acres of green space important for the Community?
This is an important issue for the entire Community (not just residents backing onto the golf course) as we do not want to lose any more green space in the heart of our community to widespread development with associated years of construction and resulting in increased density and local traffic. This will assure the existence of green space, either a golf course or park, and protect the Stonebridge quality of life for current resident families and generations to come.
The benefits of green space in our community are far-reaching in that, not only does it provide all of us with a quieter, more peaceful neighbourhood but, also has a calming effect on our roads. Proximity to green space has an immense benefit to our mental and physical well-being. Open spaces help reduce light pollution and provide habitat for wildlife. Once the community has acquired the lands, the Community would have influence to support activities such as walking and running on the paths, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, etc.
3. Why not vote NO now and then negotiate a better deal with a new group? Why not demand/negotiate harder and make Mattamy accept a deal of no development and no levy?
The current proposal is the result of months of negotiation with Mattamy and the City in consultation with subject matter experts. The Letter of Intent (LOI) signed by Mattamy confirms their commitment to this proposal.
It is important for residents to remember that Mattamy was under no obligation to participate in this process and that the proposal is a result of compromise from all parties. Had any of the parties been entrenched on a position, it would have derailed the process and not met the objective of negotiating a solution that was acceptable to all parties.
Voting NO now would leave the community less than 5 months to establish a new working group and negotiate the “better deal” with proof of funding. It also assumes that Mattamy would be willing to come back to the table with a new group. As stated before Mattamy had no obligation to participate in this process, they have met their commitments to the City/councillors to participate in a facilitated process and a NO vote with no secured funding gives them the green light to develop the golf course lands as they so choose.
4. Could Mattamy really develop all of the property? Are numbers like 2000+ homes not just fear-mongering?
Mattamy owns the land and therefore has inherent rights. A title search of the golf course lands was conducted. Nothing was found on title that would prevent Mattamy from submitting development applications with the City.
If the applications meet the defined criteria, they cannot be denied based only on community opposition. We have seen development of Dalkena and Rossburn Crescents on the old driving range. We have seen development on the old Apple Orchard. We have seen development on the Pink House site. There is no guarantee that Mattamy will be granted approvals to develop but the precedents are there.
There is however a guarantee that they won’t be able to develop if this proposal is accepted. It is important to note that acceptance of this agreement in no way removes homeowner’s right to oppose any development.
How many homes can be built is anyone’s guess. We can however point to these examples: The previous pink house development site is 7 acres on which 49 homes are being built. Glen Abbey Golf Course is a 229 acre course on which ClubLink is proposing to build 3222 residential homes and 121,000 square feet of commercial space. On October 8th 2019 ClubLink filed its application with the City of Ottawa to re-develop 71 hectares (175+acres) of the Kanata Lakes golf course.
We are extremely fortunate as a community of homeowners to have Mattamy at the table willing to discuss this matter. They are under no legal obligation to hear or act upon our concerns. The opportunity we have been given to negotiate is a privilege and not a right. We collectively need to understand this. Many other communities have not had this opportunity.
5. Is the community protected from excessive cost overruns or a future levy if the lands are converted to green space? What about references to conversion to green space costing over $20 million dollars? What about soil contamination and pesticides?
If the lands are converted to green space, it will be to a passive park, very similar to Stonebridge Trail and not an active park. A passive park is made up of trees, trails (the pathways are already in place throughout the golf course which is a huge bonus), water features and naturalized open areas (similar to the stormwater pond landscaping at Longfields Drive and Paul Metivier Drive). There will be no sports fields, no structures, no roads or infrastructure (hydro or water).
Conversion to green space has been discussed with the City and they have confirmed that the sprinkler system could stay in the ground and just not be used, the sand traps would be filled and the ponds would remain. There are no show-stopping concerns to make the space into a passive park and any costs can be covered in the $1 million contingency. The City has agreed to take over the maintenance (mowing small corridor either side of cart path) if the Community decides to transfer title back to the city as part of their city park inventory and to maintain the existing stormwater management system.
There have been some online references to the Crooked Creek course in the US which estimated a cost of $20+M to convert their lands to green space. If you read the news articles in detail, they break the costs downs as follows: $4m to buy the course, $7M to add roadways and utilities, $7M in park development (sports fields, structures etc.), $2.5M for repairs to existing structures and $1.8M in staffing. None of this would apply to converting Stonebridge from course to park/green space.
As part of the Phase 16 submission last year an Environmental Site Assessment (Phase 1) was completed. Soil samples were tested for pesticides and results were found to comply with Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) standards. There is no evidence that there will be additional costs for soil or site remediation.
6. How do we know Mattamy won’t run the golf course into the ground, leaving us with a derelict operation? What if the asset is worth less than $6 million when we purchase it? What are the golf course taxes? Has the golf course operator, Mattamy, been granted deferred taxes? Will the golf course operation require a future levy?
It is important to note that this proposed agreement is to purchase the lands, the equipment and the buildings only for a fixed price of $6 million. We are not buying the golf course business. If the business has $5 million in debt, we do not assume this. If the business has $5 million in cash in the bank, we do not get this.
Whether the Community opts to continue to run a golf course on the premises or convert the land to green space will be a decision to be taken after due diligence analysis with then current financial data. As previously articulated in a FAQ a third party golf course operator (turnkey solution) could be engaged to operate the golf course and assume the financial risk and rewards of the golf course operation. The community also has the option to convert to green space if the golf course operation is not financially viable at the time of purchase, therefore there will be no requirement for a future levy.
As stated in a previous FAQ, golf is a break-even business, neither high profits or losses. Mattamy is not deferring taxes (approximately $36,000/year) and the exact details of their financial position will be disclosed during the due diligence period of the purchase. If the community secures financing to guarantee they will purchase the lands, Mattamy has committed to a multi-million dollar redesign of the golf course with a highly respected golf architect (Doug Carrick – http://www.carrickdesign.com) and operate the golf course for 10 years, thus during this time period, operating and marketing plans are Mattamy’s responsibility and it is unlikely they would intentionally invest in re-design and commit to operations then willfully ruin the business and their profits. The discussions for the golf course pillar have always centred around maintaining the current quality of the golf course and the golf experience, if not better.
7. When and why can the clause (ii) in the LOI called Buy-back of Property by Mattamy be actioned?
Mattamy is providing the Community and/or the City the option to purchase the lands on the condition that it be used to either operate a golf course or convert the lands to passive green space. These conditions will be registered as restrictive covenants on title.
This clause can only be actioned if either the Community or the City tries to use/sell/transfer or dispose of the lands for anything other than a golf course or green space. The SWG strongly believes that this scenario is extremely unlikely.
8. Could the levy just apply to some group of people? Why can the residents who back onto the course not be required to pay more?
The use of the City’s special community levy was determined to be the most effective and fair mechanism available.
The SWG asked the City if it would be possible to have different rates applied and were advised that the only way to apply a special community levy was with a common percentage applied to the property’s MPAC assessment amount. In order to take advantage of the ability to hold a community vote for fairness, to have accountability with respect to how the funds are collected/managed and to have security of funding – the levy mechanism was seen as the best option available. It works by being applied to a catchment area, it cannot be applied selectively within the identified catchment boundaries The City has implemented Special area levies in the past.
As stated in previous FAQs, the levy is applied to a property’s MPAC assessment amount, therefore the higher the MPAC assessment, the higher the levy collected from a property.
9. How will the levy impact the resale value of my home?
A yes vote will ensure buyers will have certainty with respect to what may or may not be happening with the golf course. A no vote does not provide this certainty and thus may create buyer hesitation. We do know that the green space is something that differentiates Stonebridge from other Barrhaven and Ottawa communities. To date, not a single practicing realtor or appraiser has publicly proclaimed that voting yes will negatively impact Stonebridge property values. Individual homeowners may wish to consult their own practicing realtor or appraiser to get an independent opinion.
10. This feels too rushed, why is there such a hurry?
Mattamy originally submitted their application for Phase 16 in June 2018 before withdrawing it in July 2018 with the intent to engage in facilitated talks with the community. For the past 6 months, Mattamy has negotiated in good faith with the community and has committed to a way forward formally captured in the LOI.
As per the LOI, the Community can acquire the golf course lands IF it can demonstrate to Mattamy that it to fund the acquisition. Mattamy has accepted a YES vote to the Levy as sufficient proof. Without a YES vote, the Community will have to find an alternative source of funding that Mattamy will accept by no later than May 1st, 2020. Without evidence of secure funding for the acquisition of the lands, there is no solution and thus no need for Mattamy to invest in re-designing the golf course.
11. Have all 3300 impacted households been made aware? Have all demographic groups been considered? Have you consulted with everyone?
We have reached out to have as much community involvement as possible but cannot force residents to become involved. We have held over 15 hours of open houses, two formal community meetings open to all residents (also live-streamed in real-time and posted for viewing for those unable to attend), multiple drop-in sessions with interested parties/specific issues. We have posted all pertinent information on the SCA website and the SCA’s social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) as soon as it became available. FAQs were posted to efficiently address questions as they came in or new information was gathered. All of this information was announced via all SCA communication channels cited above. Community billboards were used to further the reach homeowners and direct mailing of the flyer inviting residents to the July 30th proposal announcement was distributed to all the houses in the catchment area. Our emails reach over 2300 residents who requested to be kept apprised of new information concerning the Phase 16 development or SWG activities and provided their email addresses at previous City, SCA or SWG held meetings.
We are confident, based on our personal discussions and interactions during these sessions, that we reached a good cross-section of this diverse community, including golfers, non-golfers, those backing onto the golf course and those who do not, residents who feel they are greatly impacted and those who don’t really care about this issue, single-family homeowners and those who are in towns or condos, those near the golf course and those that are farther away, younger residents and seniors, those with kids and those without, those for and against the proposal. We have spoken with a wide cross-section of residents and have incorporated their feedback where possible.
12. Why do we have a Letter of Intent (LOI) instead of a contract?
The letter of intent (LOI) is a legal document outlining the intention of the parties and forms the basis of the agreement. A final contract (based on the LOI) would only be created if financing for the purchase price is secured. Put another way, not a single dollar would come out of Stonebridge resident pockets towards the levy until a contract is in place. It is premature to sign a contract for this deal since we have not secured the financing for it. We have worked long and hard to negotiate each line item on this LOI with the Community’s best interests in mind. While it’s impossible to satisfy everyone, we have tried and continue to try our best to satisfy the majority.
13. Where can I find all of the official documents published to date by the SWG?
All official SWG – Proposed Golf Course Solution documents published to date are provided for your convenience below. Please ensure you read through these carefully so that you are well informed before voting on the Community levy.
- Original SWG Proposal Presentation – July 30th, 2019
- SWG’s Official Report to Councillors – September 4th,2019
- FAQ # 1, 2, 3 and 4 – August 8th, August 19th, September 23rd, October 8th, 2019
- Mattamy’s Letter of Intent (LOI) – September 30th, 2019
- SWG Community Update Presentation – September 30th, 2019 (also available in French and Mandarin)
14. Why are all of the details of this not figured out and crystal clear?
The SWG has been working with the City and Mattamy on a way forward since April. This is an extremely complex process and solutions and priorities had to be set to ensure negotiations kept going all the while keeping the Community apprised. The first objective was to get to an agreed-to proposal, share this information with the community, and gauge reaction before we continued. All these activities take time. We continued to refine the LOI all the while continuing to keep the community apprised of the progress and details of the proposal by hosting open houses, meeting with representative groups within the community, and publishing FAQs. This meant: meetings with the Community, Mattamy, the City, and subject matter experts; publishing documentation; building presentations and SWG meetings to manage all activities.
We believe we have sufficient information and detail to move forward, recognizing that more work on finer details needs to be completed and we will get there together as a Community.
Released September 23, 2019
1. Why does the City need to own the land?
As a result of further negotiation with the City with the support of our City Councillors, a new option that involves Community ownership is now available.
Due to the legalities of the Municipal Act, if the City collects a levy from the public to secure real estate it must assume the title of the property. There are two options available to the Community. Once the levy has been collected and Mattamy has ceased operation of the golf course, the City can acquire the lands from Mattamy and:
a. The City can lease the lands to the legal entity that represents the Community; or,
b. The City can transfer title to the legal entity that represents the Community.
2. How long can Mattamy continue to operate the golf course?
No fixed date has been set at this time. The Community will have the right to trigger an option to secure the lands provided it has the funds.
3. What happens to the levied funds during and after collection by the City? When would the levy stop?
a. Funds collected through a special levy are held in a separate account identified to be disbursed for a specific purpose – in this case, for the Community’s acquisition and operation of the Stonebridge Golf Course.
b. Accumulated funds cannot be distributed for any other purpose than those identified at the time the levy is started; it would be illegal for anyone (City or Community) to access these funds for any other purpose.
c. Once the special levy target amount has been reached and the levy has been stopped, accumulated funds will remain in the dedicated account and continue to earn interest until the Community needs them to acquire the golf course lands; it would be illegal for anyone (City or Community) to access these funds for any other purpose.
d. Financial reporting is done twice a year, at the end of each tax collection period; details can be made available from the City upon request.
e. The levy will stop when the $7 million target amount has been reached. It is likely that as interest accrues, the levy period initially identified might be shortened.
4. How much funds will be levied?
a. The acquisition price for the golf course lands is $6 million.
b. Additional funds will be required for taxes, legal fees, and land transfer fees.
c. When Mattamy ceases operation of the golf course, it will close all outstanding contracts (equipment leases, services, etc..) When the Community takes over the operation of the golf course, (either through a third party or other solution) funds will be required for operations as well as a reserve fund should be set aside for conversion to green space. More detailed info will be shared at the Community Update meeting on September 30th, 2019.
d. Calculations for the Special Levy: SWG provided the City finance department with a $7 million fund target and end date of 2029 when the Community would need the funds necessary to proceed with the acquisition of the golf course. Based on catchment information the City calculated the levy rate needed to allow the Community to achieve its target within the given timeframe.
e. The SWG has recommended that the three Councillors representing Stonebridge Community Wards 3, 21, and 22, present a request to the Finance and Economic Development Committee (FEDCO) on October 1, 2019. This was communicated in the SWG Report to Councillors.
5. Can Mattamy raise the price? Can Mattamy renegotiate the price?
NO – A legally binding agreement will be documented and signed. This agreement will bind Mattamy to sell the golf course lands to the Stonebridge Community for the fixed price of $6 million.
6. Why is the SCA and/or the SWG making the decision on our behalf?
Neither the SWG nor the SCA are making a decision:
a. The SWG’s mandate is to facilitate dialogue and find a solution between the Stonebridge Community residents and Mattamy, the landowner, to preserve 198 acres as either golf course and/or green space.
b. The Community will make its decision through a community-wide city administered vote. The vote is NOT limited to the SCA membership. On the other hand, now is a great time to get involved with the SCA and help forge the future of our community.
7. Why did Mattamy protect the sharing of financial details of the golf course operation through a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)? Will they disclose financial statements?
a. Private business owners who do not have to answer to shareholders are under no obligation to share their financial information. Business owners will understand that it is not good business practice to disclose all financial details of that business to the general public. An exception was made in this case to allow the SWG to have accurate information in assessing different options.
b. During the 2-year notice period, through due diligence, all information will be made available in order for the Community to confirm the viability of continuing the operation of the golf course, and if not viable, convert the golf course lands to green space.
c. The SWG has met with 3rd party golf operators and, for the purposes of this proposal, believes it is sufficient to understand that the golf business is a break-even business, neither very large profits nor very large losses and has factored this into the financial estimates. Exact amounts of cost/profits/losses for a business 10 years from now are not possible nor required. To protect the Community, the proposal includes the option to convert the golf course to green space should the golf course prove not to be a profitable business.
8. Why has the catchment area been revised?
Numerous factors were taken into account when the SWG originally put forward a catchment area for the proposed levy as described in the SWG FAQs on the SCA website. Based on resident feedback, collaboration with the Half Moon Bay Community Association (HMBCA), and revisiting all factors taken into consideration the SWG has excluded the Tamarack homes from the proposed catchment area for Stonebridge. This decision was communicated to the HMBCA on September 4th, 2019.
9. Are the survey results statistically significant? Why did the survey allow for more than one response per household?
Responses were collected from 1368 individuals. Out of the 1,368 total respondents, 71 stated they do not live in Stonebridge. This automatically disqualified them from the survey and left us with 1,297. Next, we removed 6 respondents that stated they were renting as we are only collecting quantitative feedback from property owners (we did include their qualitative, open-ended feedback). That left us with 1,291 respondents. However, only 1,039 answered the remaining questions. The others chose not to respond.
Working assumptions for the survey:
– Number of households in Stonebridge is 3385 (recently revised based on new catchment area)
– Average of 1.5 potential adult homeowner survey respondents per household (this was likely a lot closer to 1 but we want to err on the side of caution when calculating statistical significance).
– Total estimated homeowner population size: 5078 adults (i.e. 3385*1.5)
a. Based on the above assumptions, it can be stated that the survey responses in general represent the views of 5078 Stonebridge homeowners within ±2.71% 9.5 times out of 10. The sample size is more than sufficient to prevent radical outliers from influencing the results in a statistically significant manner (e.g. we were informed by one resident that they purposely by-passed the “one response per user” restriction by clearing their browser cache and submitting multiple responses). This is a reality with any online survey. While we reiterate that this is only a survey, we confidently work under the assumption that only a very small minority of Stonebridge residents would consciously attempt to manipulate the survey results with malicious intent.
b. The overwhelming majority of respondents submitted lengthy responses to the open-ended questions. The tone of these responses (positive, neutral or negative) matched the distribution of the non open-ended questions thus providing an extra level of confidence in the integrity of our survey.
c. This survey was NOT a vote, nor was it the sole determinant factor in SWG’s recommendation to proceed with a city administered vote. It was simply meant to collect your feedback and get a rough idea of potential support level should it be put to a vote and to see if there were any key concerns we may have missed. The actual vote on the levy will be administered by the City and will be limited to one vote per household.
10. Do we pay a property tax premium because we live in a golf course community?
NO – All property in the residential class have the same tax rate. Generally, the only factor that impacts the amount of municipal tax a resident owes is linked directly to the MPAC property assessment of their property. A resident whose property is assessed at a higher value will pay more than a resident whose property is assessed at a lower value. Properties are assessed by MPAC. MPAC looks at sales and compare your property to similar properties that have sold in your area. This approach is called Current Value Assessment and is used by most assessment jurisdictions in North America.
That being said, Stonebridge is a much sought after neighborhood due to the existence of the golf course and, as a result, the property value of properties in Stonebridge are usually higher than those in neighboring communities. It should be noted that the Stonebridge Golf Course is listed as a key differentiator when people are looking to buy or sell a home in Stonebridge.
11. Why is this important? Why should I care? What’s in it for me?
If there is no golf course or green space, the Community could see 2000+ additional homes built in the community, depending on density approval, maybe more. This will result in a sizable traffic increase, shortage of schools, etc. and a resulting loss of property value as the “Stonebridge Brand” would be lost. Permanently protecting our green space makes Stonebridge even more desirable in the market.
The proposed recommendation is a good viable long-term solution, the best that the SWG could come up with given that the property is privately owned by a developer who has the legal right to develop the lands. The proposed solution permanently protects our green space and ensures no future development of any kind on the Stonebridge golf course lands other than Mattamy’s Phase 16 (158 houses) plan. Should the Community opt to convert the lands to passive green space, Mattamy retains the right to develop the maintenance grounds and part of the clubhouse area.
12. If the Stonebridge Community, through the SCA or other representative organization, legally own the golf course lands, would the residents be responsible for any golf course losses?
Prior to acquiring the golf course, the Community will do due diligence on the golf course operations and will decide whether it wants to continue to operate the golf course. Armed with accurate and current financial and market data, the Community will be able to determine what is fiscally responsible and implement an appropriate course of action at the time. It is not the intent for the community to subsidize the operation of the golf course. The raising of $7 million, through the means of a special city administered community levy, is to provide a reserve fund to cover initial start-up costs should the community decide that operating the golf course is a viable business opportunity and/or to cover costs for converting the lands to passive green space should the Community opt to do so.
13. How many residents would be impacted if no agreement was made with Mattamy?
The SWG believes that ALL residents of the Stonebridge Community would be directly impacted by the issue at hand and that everybody’s property values are threatened if an Agreement is not in place to preserve the green space against development in the future. The potential benefit protects property values and the quality of life Stonebridge residents have come to expect for ALL Stonebridge residents.
14. Did the SWG or SCA distribute a flyer recently?
NO – ALL communications from the SWG are handled via the SCA’s established communication channels: the SCA website, the SCA email list and the SCA’s social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter).
15. Will we pay an added tax of $475 a year?
a. Only if the MPAC assessment of your property has been valued at $800,000 or above. The estimated and approximate yearly levy amounts quoted in the SWG presentation of July 30th are based on the range of the MPAC assessment value of a property were as follows:
16. Would Stonebridge homeowners be subsidizing golf course property owners?
NO – All Stonebridge homeowners would be paying a special levy that will allow them to acquire the golf course and ensure that the golf course lands will either remain as golf course or green space in the future. Stonebridge homeowners are not subsidizing anyone. Stonebridge homeowners, as a community, will become golf course property owners and will decide in the future whether to continue to operate the golf course or convert it to green space. This will assure the quality of life they expected when they moved to Stonebridge to continue for their families and those to come.
Please plan to attend the SWG Community Update meeting to obtain more details of the proposed solution on September 30th, 2019 from 7.00-9.00PM, at the Nepean Sportsplex, Hall A & B.
Released August 19, 2019
1. Have the decisions already been made?
NO – It is not the mandate of the Stonebridge Working Group (SWG) to make decisions for the Community. The SWG’s mandate is to attempt to find a solution between Stonebridge Community residents and Mattamy, the landowner, that is in the best interest of the Community.
The Community has been asked through a survey (SWG Survey) to provide feedback by August 20th on the proposed solution and on the levy funding mechanism.
2. What is the SWG’s proposed solution as per their mandate?
The proposed solution (refer to the SWG July 30th Presentation) involves the acquisition of the approximate 198 acres of golf course lands, the Clubhouse and maintenance facility for $6 million, which acquisition is intended to:
a. Ensure no additional residential construction past Phase 16, unless the decision is made to convert the lands to open passive green space in which case Mattamy will retain the right to develop the Stonebridge clubhouse and maintenance facility lands;
b. Have Mattamy undertake the professional redesign of the golf course to a par 70/6,000 yards and associated costs and to guarantee the operation of the golf course until at least 2029 at current standards;
c. Allow the Stonebridge Community 9 years to gather the funds and decide the future of the golf course and/or green space lands;
d. Allow time, at least until 2029, for the Stonebridge Community to decide the future of the golf course and/or green space. This decision will be ultimately be made by the Stonebridge Community and will be based on a variety of factors including golf market conditions at the time and financial analysis of the golf course operations.
3. While we might agree with the acquisition of the golf course lands, why do we need a levy?
Simply put, a levy provides a mechanism that will allow the City on behalf of the Community to collect the necessary funds. In this case, it is considered prudent to commence collection of funds sooner rather than later to enable smaller charges over time.
The Community does not have the necessary administration or resources to collect the funds.
Mattamy has committed to operate the golf course for 10 years, to provide a 2 year notice period, and to provide the Stonebridge Community with the first right of refusal to purchase the golf course lands. What this means is that, in 2029, the Stonebridge Community needs to have both the purchase price ($6 million) and a small operating contingency reserve available to complete the purchase.
The decision to implement the levy is entirely up to the Community. The SWG is still gathering information on exactly how the levy process will be implemented, land ownership and further details. The SWG will share those details as soon as they become available.
At this time, the SWG is not aware of any other finance mechanism that ensures that the funds are available when required.
4. Could Mattamy develop the full 198 acres?
YES – If the SWG’s proposal to acquire the property, and fund the acquisition, is rejected by the Community. Please refer to SWG 2-part proposal. SWG July 30th, Community Meeting Follow-up.
The golf course is located on lands that are privately owned by Mattamy and, as such, they have the right to develop those lands in their entirety subject only to compliance with the City’s development regulations. The City’s Planning Department cannot refuse an owner’s application to develop land. The City will confirm receipt of the application and verify that it is complete with the required studies (i.e. environmental, transportation, etc.) and that the owner’s application is consistent with the Ontario Planning Act, the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan and Zoning By-Laws, and the City Council’s policies. The public and any interested parties may be heard during the City of Ottawa’s public meetings as per the Application Review process. However, objections based on any inconsistencies with the Planning Act, the Official Plan and By-Laws will carry merit in terms of Planning Review and/or further action. For more details on the Application Review process please refer to the City of Ottawa – Development Application Review Process. It should be noted however that if Mattamy applied to develop the golf course land into a residential subdivision(s), there would be a 5% obligatory parcel(s) set aside for parkland.
5. Could Mattamy continue to build homes after Phase 16 under the proposed solution?
NO – If the SWG’s proposal is accepted by the Community, unless the Stonebridge Community decides to convert the lands to open passive green space, in which case Mattamy will retain the right to develop the clubhouse and maintenance facility lands.
6. What happens should the Stonebridge Community acquire the lands?
From now until Fall 2029, the Stonebridge Community has time to assess and study alternatives with regards to the continued operation of the golf course and/or conversion to open passive green space. Any decisions made in this regard will be made by the Community. The 2 year notice period is designed to ensure that the Stonebridge Community has sufficient time to prepare for any decisions that need to be made.
7. What is the golf course land really worth? Is $6 million a reasonable amount?
To put things in perspective:
a. The 198 acre Stonebridge Golf Course is situated within the City’s Urban Boundary. At $6 million, this equates approximately to $30,000/acre.
b. Recent sales of comparable lands within the Urban Boundary in Barrhaven include:
- In 2016, Uniform acquired the 7.3 acres located at 2741 Longfields (Pink House) for $3.8 million (approximately $520,000/acre);
- Recently, Minto acquired 17.17 acres situated behind the golf driving range off Greenbank for $10,500,000 (approximately $611,531/acre).
The SWG does not believe it is necessary to engage in speculation about why Mattamy is prepared to sell its lands to the Stonebridge Community at such a value. The SWG believes the amount to be very favourable and appropriate in all the circumstances.
8. How is information being communicated to the Stonebridge Community?
- The announcement of the July 30th Community Update Meeting was distributed through a Canada Post mailing to the entire Stonebridge Community, and posted on the Community billboards displayed along principal streets in the Community, funded by the SCA.
- Immediately after the meeting, the presentation/slides were posted on the SCA website, Facebook page (over 2100 followers) and Twitter channel.
- Also direct emails were sent to all residents who signed up at any of the public meetings or through the SCA mailing lists (over 2300 email addresses);
- A community update was posted on the SCA website: SWG July 30th -Community Meeting Follow-up.
- The first set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) was posted on the SCA website and more are to come: SWG Proposed Solution – Frequently Asked Questions.
- Open Question and Answer Drop-in Sessions have been held at the Stonebridge Golf Clubhouse (August 12th and 13th), with the last session scheduled for Tuesday, August 20th from 3:00pm to 8:00pm.
- Another Community meeting will be scheduled by the SWG in near future.
The SWG has been made aware that a flyer is being circulated in the community with reference to an email address that has no association with the SWG or SCA.
To ensure that you have accurate information regarding the SWG’s proposed solution, please refer to the SCA’s existing communication channels, the SCA website, Facebook page, Twitter channel, and email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. If the City should acquire ownership of the land, can they do with it what they want?
NO – The current proposed solution envisages the City holding title to the lands with a long term lease back to the Stonebridge Community.
However, other options are being explored with the City to determine whether the City’s ownership is necessary. Further information will be provided when it is available.
Released August 8, 2019
1. What is the issue?
According to the survey conducted by the Stonebridge Community Association (SCA) last year the community’s top concerns were:
a. Loss of green space;
b. Potential decrease of property value;
c. Lower public appeal of living in Stonebridge;
d. Negatively impacting existing quality of life;
e. Potential total development of the golf course. Mattamy, as a private land owner, could develop all 198 acres.
You may want to reflect upon what drew you to choose the Stonebridge Community as your home: was it the appeal of a Golf Course Community, the open spaces, the lower density, a concern to maintain property value as Barrhaven grows? It is most likely that whatever attracted you to move to our community will be protected by ensuring that no further construction is approved on the golf course lands.
2. What is the Stonebridge Working Group’s (SWG) mandate?
a. It is a City initiated effort to facilitate dialogue and find a solution between the Stonebridge Community residents and Mattamy, the land owner, to preserve 198 acres as either golf course and/or green space.
b. This is a volunteer effort – no funding has been provided. The SWG is made up of five SCA board members and five members of the community with a variety of backgrounds and expertise.
3. Why is the SWG not taking legal action against Mattamy?
a. It is not the mandate of the SWG to pursue legal action;
b. Each individual resident has the right to pursue all legal options they deem necessary; nothing in the proposal removes these rights.
4. Why should we pay if we do not live on the golf course or use its facilities?
This is not a golf course specific issue. The goal of the proposal is the preservation of the green space that is an integral part of the Stonebridge Community. No matter where you live in Stonebridge the existence of the green space is reflected in your property value and the loss of green space would also be reflected.
5. On what is the $6 million price based?
a. This price was negotiated between the SWG and Mattamy.
b. The SWG believes that the $6 million purchase price for 198 acres of development land including the club house, maintenance facility and golf course related equipment is a very favourable price.
c. It is important to note that this $6 million purchase price is a fixed purchase price – there is no escalation for inflation.
6. Why a levy?
a. It allows the Stonebridge Community to collect funds over a fixed period of time – in this case (9 tax years) from 2021 to 2029.
b. It puts the Stonebridge Community in a position to buy the 198 acres of golf course land, when the time comes;
c. This mechanism uses an existing process to collect funds that the community and/or the SCA is not equipped to do.
7. What is a levy?
a. It is a community initiated, City administered, funding mechanism to enable special projects within a community.
b. The proposed Stonebridge levy has a start and end date – start tax year 2021 to end of tax year 2029.
c. The amount to be raised will include the acquisition of the lands, taxes, legal fees and a reserve to ensure operation of the golf course, and should the golf course become no longer viable, the conversion to green space.
d. The levy amount must be based on a percentage of MPAC assessed value of property and cannot be an equal fixed amount per household;
e. The levy system is based on a defined catchment area and does not allow itemization of specific street addresses where to apply it (or not);
f. Traditionally when the City levies funds for a community project the City owns the results of the project upon completion. The SWG is investigating this further.
g. Funds collected through the levy process will be held by the City in a separate fund and invested conservatively; the Community will be provided with accounting records on a regular basis.
h. In the unlikely event that once collected, the funds are no longer required to purchase the land (e.g., angel investor) or only a portion is required, the collected funds must be used by the City for the betterment of the Stonebridge Community and do not transfer to general revenue.
i. The catchment area for the levy is based on several factors including:
i. Who was the builder;
ii. What restrictive covenants are registered on the title of the property;
iii. What is the boundary recognized by Half Moon Bay Community Association and Stonebridge Community Association;
iv. What is the defined Stonebridge Community as identified by the Ottawa Real Estate Board.
8. What happens to the funds collected through the levy if Mattamy keeps operating the golf course past 2029?
a. The funds will remain invested until such time as Mattamy decides to leave the golf business;
b. The Stonebridge Community will be in a position to purchase the golf course lands.
9. Is the SCA capable of operating the golf course?
a. We recognize that the SCA is not equipped to run a golf course.
b. When Mattamy decides to cease operations of the golf course, the Stonebridge Community will have to assess its options – including retaining a golf course management firm to operate the golf course.
10. Why can’t the City pay for some or all of the $6 million to save the green space?
a. Through the development process the City acquires land for the purpose of park and open space and the developers of the Stonebridge Community have already met their obligations through this process. This is a unique situation outside the scope of the City’s development process.
b. The City of Ottawa funds City wide initiatives and not community specific projects.
11. Will there be an opportunity for another meeting to obtain more details?
a. The SWG is holding multiple Q & A drop-in sessions that you can attend at your convenience. Visit us at the Stonebridge Golf & Country Club’s clubhouse from 3-8pm on August 12th, 13th or 20th with any questions you have;
b. The SWG plans to hold a 2nd Community meeting in September – planning in the works;
c. The SWG is still working on details and will be publishing FAQs on the SCA website on an ongoing basis.
If you have not already completed the feedback survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SWGsolutionfeedback) please do so before August 20th to allow us to prepare for the follow-up community meeting and be able to address all your questions.