Residents voice concerns over Mansfield Ski Club development

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Pine River Valley residents are asking Mulmur Township officials to take extra steps to safeguard the community against perceived risks from a development proposal at Mansfield Ski Club.
At Mulmur Township’s Oct. 7 council meeting, resident Catherine Lyall spoke on behalf of a group of 30-plus Pine River Valley residents, including club members and non-members, who share concerns about the project.
Mansfield Property Management, a subsidiary of Mansfield Ski Club, has had a 93-unit accommodation development plan on the books since 2015, when Brent Harley and Associates (BHA) were hired to design a Master Plan for Mansfield Ski Club.
“The goal of the project was to attract and retain club memberships by enhancing the overall experience. With this in mind, BHA established project objectives: expand the skiable terrain, explore the all-season capacity of the site, and plan for the development of the village and base area, including an eco-neighbourhood/resort residential development,” states the Whistler based planning firm.
A rezoning has already been approved and site plan approval is pending for a phased-in development of 48 units in phase one and 45 units in phase two.
“This project at 48 townhomes is too large and detrimental. At 93 homes it would be exponentially worse. It provides no benefit to Mulmur residents,” said Lyall.
She spoke to specific concerns about the health of the environment, specifically the Pine River watershed. Water taking for snow making, and the discharge of treated sewage effluent top their concerns. Flooding from storm water runoff, increased traffic and garbage are also among concerns.
“Many of our residents have been denied permission to build even small structures because runoff poses an environmental risk,” said Lyall. “How can a zoning that permits 48 townhomes not be a proportionately much higher risk?”
The opposition is asking for greater study and that securities be collected to protect the municipality financially, should the development stall.
“Ideally, we would like to see the rezoning revoked. It’s not in residents’ best interest.”
In an interview with Mansfield Ski Club president Rob Walkowiak, vice president Finley McEwen and secretary Sarah Stewart-Browne they said the development project is a 50-year plan to address “the changing demographic, climactic and other conditions that the club operates in.”
They say it is about providing a level of engagement that meets member expectations. Member surveys indicate that people want accommodation, more challenging terrain, and experiences that support all around wellness. In response, the project includes a new snow making pond, new lifts, terrain alterations to add 25 metres of elevation and steeper grades, a pedestrian oriented village (eventually totaling 93 residential units). The units will be seasonal residences, but owners will have the ability to rent them out.
McEwen said the club is looking to complement the existing ski experience, not change it.
Walkowiak said the intention is to benefit the local economy.
“Our plan works inline with focus on protection of the environment,” he said.
Mansfield Ski Club is initially planning to proceed with the first 12 townhome units, in one four-storey building to be located south of the main chalet.
A site plan agreement will be coming back to council once all ministry approvals have been issued.
Council members and staff said there may be opportunity for some of the residents’ concerns to be addressed through the site plan agreement.
“The opposition is growing, I have to say that,” Mayor Janet Horner told The Echo. “We are getting letters, almost daily sometimes. The people on Mountainview are the ones who are objecting mostly and sometimes they have to be reminded that once upon a time where they lived was a 100-acre farm too.”
“We have to make sure that growth is appropriate and this is a recreation area,” said Horner, adding that the proper zoning is in place. “Provided that it meets all the requirements.”

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    Many Mansfield Ski Club members, including myself, are concerned that the grandiose condo development plan, of up to 93 units, could bankrupt the club. The board members freely admit that they tried without success to find a developer willing to take on the project, so they formed a wholly owned subsidiary of the club, with no independent financing, to do it themselves.
    Also, parking has always been scarce at the Club, and it makes no sense to fill much of the parking lot with condos, while forcing existing members to walk from some future lot, to be built further down the hill from the Main Chalet and the lifts.
    While the concept of such a development has been around for several years, the Club members have never been allowed to vote on it. This I think is totally unacceptable.

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