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Neighbours cry foul over Blue's proposed employee housing

Residents suggest employee apartments would be filled with people living 'fun, party life' a 'beer can toss' away from a 'quiet subdivision'
Dan Skelton (left), president of Blue Mountain Resort listens as residents express concerns about a proposal by the resort to build employee housing near the base of the mountain.

Neighbours of an employee housing project being proposed at the base of Blue Mountain are worried the concept will cause major disruptions in their lives and community.

Residents in the Martin Grove, Patricia Drive and Claire Glen community were out in full force at the Nov. 28 committee of the whole meeting for The Blue Mountains council. Speaker after speaker spoke about their concerns about the employee housing project being proposed by Blue Mountain Resort. The proposal would see two five-storey buildings constructed in close proximity to their homes. The buildings would be capable of housing up to 301 people.

Local resident Silvia Weismann appeared as a formal delegation at the meeting and a number of other neighbouring property owners spoke during the public comments section of the meeting.

Weismann said the proposed employee housing project would “create major disruption in the area.”

Her presentation included photos that illustrated the impact the housing project would have on the homes of neighbouring property owners.

“The employee housing is like a [short-term rental] on steroids,” said Weismann. “Once the employee housing is built, we’re stuck with it, no matter what.”

Weismann said local residents are looking for collaboration with the resort and asked council to support their efforts to find solutions to their concerns.

The council chambers were packed with local residents who applauded Weismann’s presentation and also supported other speakers on the matter.

A number of other local residents also addressed council on the issue.

“Life as we know it in our neighbourhood will never be the same,” said John Shorthill, who has lived on Claire Glen for 51 years and he asked council to support the efforts of the neighbours to engage the resort on the option of an alternative site for the project.

Jim Greenway suggested the future residents of the apartments would be resort workers “living the fun, party life.”

“They will be within a beer can toss of a quiet sub-division of mostly seniors,” he said.

Another neighbour, Beata Grabowski, said there had to be another alternative for the project.

“Why not come up with a sensible solution and not impact anybody?” she said.

Multiple speakers also questioned the resort’s recent request for the town to approve a provincial Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator application to fast track the project.

Blue Mountain Resort President and COO Dan Skelton attended the meeting and was present for all of the comments and the presentation by Weismann.

He also spoke at the meeting and said the employee housing project is still working its way through the process and the resort wanted to work with neighbours to alleviate concerns.

“I’m here to reiterate our commitment to dialogue on this process,” he said, noting that the resort plans another public open house for the community early in the new year that will allow more community feedback.

Council’s only decision on the matter at the meeting was to receive the presentation from Weismann.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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