The dorm-style housing concept that could be built by 2026, but the project is currently in pre-consultation with the town. Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Neighbours of the site where dorm-style housing is being proposed for the Blue Mountain Village area have raised concerns about the concept.

CollingwoodToday recently spoke to a number of neighbours living near the property where Blue Mountain Resorts is proposing to build two five-storey buildings with 258 dorm-style rooms and 41 suites.

Neighbours expressed shock and concern about the size of the proposal and the proximity it has to their homes. In some cases, the buildings will be located just a few feet from their backyards.

“This was a bolt out of the blue. It came as a real shock. People were stunned at the dimensions, the size and the scale,” said long-time local resident John Shortill.

Although only a short distance away from the hustle and bustle of the Blue Mountain Village, Claire Glen is a quiet residential street. Tucked away at the base of the mountain, the gravel-topped road is lined with bungalows and a shady tree canopy.

The folks that live here are long-time residents, some over 50 years, and describe their local community as tight-knit. It could easily be called one of the most beautiful and well-kept secrets in The Blue Mountains.

However, those who live in this near-paradise are extremely worried their peaceful neighbourhood will soon be changed forever if the dorm housing development proceeds, as proposed.

Immediately adjacent to the backyards of this community are two pieces of land owned by the resort. The properties are located between County Road 119 and Claire Glen and are split by Blue Mountain Road. The dorm buildings are proposed for the southern piece of property, while additional parking would be located on the northern piece.

At the moment, the two parcels of land are essentially vacant. The resort uses the property as storage, but the future plan is to house hundreds of temporary workers employed at the resort and village.

The neighbours who spoke with CollingwoodToday expressed a number of concerns including: the management of traffic, the size of the development and its location.

“It’s seven and a half metres from the property line. There’s no privacy,” said Beata Grabwoski.

Jesse Keslick wonders why the buildings have to be located on the southern piece of land, versus the northern parcel that ends at the roundabout

“They’re 30 feet away from our backyards,” said Keslick, who said the area where parking is currently proposed would be a better location for the housing component. “There are 40-foot trees. It’s nobody’s backyard. Our question is: why can’t they just move it there?”

In an interview with CollingwoodToday, Dan Skelton, president of Blue Mountain Resort, said the dorm-style concept is still in the very early stages. He presented the proposal to The Blue Mountains council on July 10. The resort also held an open house for the community to introduce the concept. Skelton said the resort is still in the process of selling the proposal to Alterra and the proposal still has to go through the full planning process. He said working with neighbours is a priority for the resort.

“I’m a neighbour. There are lots of neighbours. I have no problem putting my head in the space of a neighbour and we’ll try to anticipate their needs by engaging them on the landscaping buffering and anything that mitigates noise and view that we can add to the project,” said Skelton. “There are some areas where we’ll happily collaborate. Landscaping and fencing are especially things we’ve got to do anyways. We would definitely engage neighbours and understand how we can walk that line right down the middle.”

Skelton also noted that the properties have an official plan designation for medium-density residential units.

“It was always contemplated that there would be some level of housing on that piece of land. Are we deviating from what was anticipated? Yeah, it’s not going to be residential. It’s dorm-style housing. We’re building to a very specific use against the backdrop of a very specific need,” he said.

Skelton said if all goes to plan the $40 million project would be complete by 2026.

Neighbours worry about the impact so many new residents could have on the existing neighbourhood.

“There could be 600 people living there. That’s a lot of people in a small area. It gets big pretty quickly. That’s a concern for us. That’s a lot of neighbours,” said Sylvia Wiseman.

Local residents also stress that they’re supportive of efforts to increase housing in the area and would like to collaborate with the resort to solve the issues.

“We want to work with them,” said Shortill.

Wiseman emphasized that the community wants to be part of the solution.

“We’re not whining about this. We’re being creative and thinking of alternatives,” she said. “We are all in agreement. We need some form of housing. Does it have to be this? Does it have to be there?”

An official from the Town of The Blue Mountains confirmed the employee housing proposal is in the very early stages of the planning process.

“A pre-consultation application for the Blue Mountain Resort employee housing has been received. Planning staff are reviewing the submitted application and materials and will determine if the application is complete. Once complete, the formal pre-consultation process will begin,” Tim Hendry, the town’s manager of communications and economic development said in an email. “It’s important to note that the pre-consultation process is a mandatory process that occurs before a formal planning application is submitted to the town.”

By Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 07, 2023 at 12:30

This item reprinted with permission from   Collingwood, Ontario
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