The Blue Mountains council has confirmed a committee of the whole decision to provide conditional approval of a proposed wakeboard/water skiing park near Thornbury, after hearing from residents opposing the park.
Council voted 5-2 on March 27, in favour of allowing the application to continue, despite a recommendation from planning staff that the application be denied. Councillors Paul Hope and June Porter were opposed. The approval is ‘in principle’ and a final decision is deferred until town staff and proponents finish more work on the application.
The council chambers were once again packed with members of the public both in favour and opposed to the proposal. In addition, seven delegations spoke to council about the wake park before the vote.
“The planned wakeboard park would be operating 10 hours per day, seven days per week, spring, summer and fall. That means that throughout the entire summer there would be no chance of quiet enjoyment of my property,” said neighbouring property owner Emma Sharp.
The Blue Mountains resident Debbie Crosskill urged the town to consider traffic flows that wouldn’t impact the police and fire stations located adjacent to the property.
Rob Robson said council should follow staff advice and turn down the project.
“We have so much to lose and so little to gain,” he said.
Clarksburg resident Rick Crouch said council had a “very serious” decision to make.
Four presenters expressed opposition and concerns about the proposal, while three favoured the concept. Letters to council from the delegates were also included on the agenda.
Among the supporters of the project was Sean Landreth a director with The Blue Mountains Chamber of Commerce.
“Ultimately, the chamber does not believe that the subject property will ever, realistically, serve as a site for manufacturing, warehousing, offices, or other associated or similar uses in the near future,” said Landreth. “Rather, we believe that the best use of the property is the option currently proposed by the application, which would itself be a generator of employment.”
More support came from the vice-president of Waterski and Wakeboard Ontario, Erika Langman, who lives in Collingwood. She called the proposal a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” that would fit in well with existing outdoor attractions in the area and would keep the property “in its natural form.”
The project proponent and property owner, Brennan Grange, said the Bayou Cable Park would offer “numerous benefits” to the community, suggesting those benefits would include “enhanced recreational opportunities, economic growth, environmental sustainability, and compatibility with surrounding land uses.”
We are excited about the potential for community partnerships and believe that our project can be a vital part of the Town of Blue Mountains’ future.”
In a previous report to council, town planning staff recommended the zoning and official plan amendments be denied as they viewed the request for rezoning and official plan amendments as a conversion of employment lands, which is against provincial planning policies and the local and Grey County officials plans. The wake park applicants, however, viewed their request as taking the permissions on the property for the previous use (the land in question was formally the Cedar Run horse park) and transferring them to the proposed wake park.
This difference of opinion led to a long delay between the public meeting on the concept (held in 2019) and the application coming to council for a vote.
“The project basically stalled,” said the town’s manager of community planning, Shawn Postma. “There was a stalemate.”
Staff then brought the application directly to council for a decision.
By Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 28, 2023