Residents protest Mansfield Ski Club expansion
Mansfield Ski Club held a small ceremony Tuesday to mark the launch of Mansfield Property Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of the club which is planning to build a 93-unit townhome complex in a ski village setting at the base of the hill.
While the ceremony was taking place, a group of protesters were set up at the entrance with signs and placards that read, “Big development, big mistake,” “Preserve the rural character of our community,” and “Protect the Pine River.”
Tuesday’s ceremony was dubbed a tree-planting but closely resembled a ground-breaking, with Mansfield Ski Club president and vice president and Mulmur’s mayor and deputy mayor all wielding shovels. It marks the beginning of pre-sales for the first 12 townhome units which should be built by November of 2021 and will be offered to club members on a life lease basis. Draft plan approval of the development is still pending. It is not known when the plan will be back before Mulmur council for final approval.
Once approved, the townhomes will be built in phases, taking up a portion of the parking lot. Two single dwelling residences, a new chairlift and three new ski runs have already been added since a master plan was created in 2015 and a rezoning was approved in 2016. Instead of expanding the existing snowmaking pond, vice president Finley McEwen said a new pond will be created, as not to disturbed the original, which has naturalized and has become a significant natural feature.
As part of the development process a number of environmental impact studies have been completed.
He said the seasonal housing has been designed to be as compact as possible, in order to have a reduced impact on the environment.
Mulmur Mayor Janet Horner said council has been watching the project closely, making sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. She said ultimately, the project has to be about balancing the needs of the club with the needs of the community.
“This project will bring some well needed seasonal accommodation to the area,” said Horner. “Thousands of people have flocked here during COVID… yearning for an outdoor space to de-stress and unwind for a little while.”
She said groundwater is a concern and council must be satisfied that it will be protected before approval will be given.
“We are not there yet,” said Horner.
At the gate, protesters were reiterating concerns voiced at the last Mulmur council meeting. Because the public meeting for the rezoning was held way back in 2016, many new residents or neighbours outside of the notification zone, were unaware and did not participate, therefore they have no recourse for appeal.
They want to see the development scaled back and brought to the highest of environmental standards. They have concerns about the treated effluent from the development being discharged into the Pine River and would rather see it go through an extra filtration process before being discharged.
Mansfield Ski Club member Nicole Hambleton was amongst the protesters.
“I love the ski hill. It has been part of our life for years so I don’t want to see it fail,” she said.
She does want to be part of the effort to ensure the development is done in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the natural environment that is the true capital of the ski club.
She said members have been aware of the master plan since its inception but they have not had a chance to vote on it specifically, only as part of the overall actions of the board of directors.
There is currently a holding symbol on the development until certain requirements are satisfied by the township. The site plan agreement will also contain a number of additional requirements. Those requirements include, a Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks permit to take water; an Environment Compliance Approval from the Ministry of Energy, Conservation and Parks for the treatment and discharge of wastewater for each phase; the drilling, development and testing of additional wells to support Phase 2; and other building and fire code requirements.