Blue Mountain Resort President and COO Dan Skelton is calling on the town and county to establish policies specifically for the development of employee housing.
In a recent letter to The Town of The Blue Mountains planning staff, Skelton said policies to encourage the development of staff housing currently don’t exist. As a result, businesses like Blue Mountain Resort are on their own when seeking solutions for staff housing shortages.
“Blue Mountain Resort has several active employee housing programs designed to assist seasonal employees find accommodation in proximity to the resort. These programs tend to rely on market rental opportunities in a variety of individual properties. In recent discussions with municipal and county planning staff, it is apparent that there is little planning policy that addresses employee housing as a necessary and distinct land use,” Skelton said in his letter. “There is little policy guidance that acknowledges a need for employee housing, what employee housing is, or how it can be provided.”
Skelton suggested it was time for both the town and the county official plans to include specific policies on employee housing.
Specifically, he noted employee housing should be affordable, attainable, and restricted – via a town bylaw – to occupancy by employees only.
Skelton pitched ideas such as rebates for building employee housing, and specific zoning to define employee housing and identify areas where it would be permitted.
At council’s meeting on July 4, Coun. Paula Hope referenced the letter from Skelton and advised the town would be considering such policies as part of its official plan review process.
“This is another growth area for the town where we would actually be looking at zoning for employee housing, which some would say has been long in coming,” said Hope. “This has been before the official plan review steering committee. It is moving forward and it will certainly be considered as part of the recommendations that will be coming forward.”
At the meeting, council voted to receive the letter and refer it to the official plan review steering committee.
Coun. Jim Uram said addressing staff housing would be an interesting process.
“This will require a little bit of digging to try to find the proper policy and zoning issues to try and reserve spaces for staff housing,” he said.