The sale of the Waterloo building to De Novo has exacerbated staff housing shortages at Deerhurst Resort. As a result, the resort is looking for a zoning amendment to temporarily use trailers to accommodate staff.
Their proposal was before Huntsville’s Development Services Committee on January 16, for information only.
The resort is hoping to temporarily alleviate its housing shortage with the addition of four dormitory trailers, which would contain up to 49 individual bedrooms and shared washroom facilities, Deerhurst General Manager Jesse Hamilton told committee. Other amenities proposed would include a separate kitchen trailer and parking area. Committee also heard that the trailers would be on water and sewer services.
“This is the first year in a number of years that we have existed without the Waterloo building helping us with our staff housing issues and we have been working on a solution that looks like this one for a year and a half now. It became very obvious in the past year, 2018, just how problematic our lack of staff housing is so that’s why we’re hoping to move forward with this as quickly as we can,” said Hamilton, adding that he’s hoping to have the trailers in place by mid-May. “This is really just sort of scratching at the surface of our staff housing needs, this will bring us back to where we were when we did have access to the Waterloo building.”
A zoning amendment would have to be approved in order to recognize the temporary use of the trailers. If approved, the zoning amendment would lapse in three years. At that point the applicant could seek an extension for another three years, according to the Town’s Manager of Planning, Kirstin Maxwell.
If approved, the zoning amendment would be applied to an area of approximately 3.7 hectares (9.1 acres), which currently contains five townhouses and 44 beds for staff. The area has direct access to Hwy 60 and, according Maxwell, is adequately buffered from neighbouring residential development by a portion of the Deerhurst Highlands golf course and the steep slopes to the east.
Maxwell told committee that comments had been received from the District and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO). “Although a temporary use bylaw is proposed, both the District of Muskoka and MTO have advised that additional information should be submitted prior to the passage of the bylaw. In this regard, MTO has requested that a traffic impact brief be submitted to their satisfaction, and that any required upgrades to the access off Hwy 60 be constructed at the cost of the developer. The District of Muskoka has advised that a functional servicing report, hydraulic modelling and an agreement with the District concerning the provision of municipal services, capacity allocation and solid waste management should be completed,” she stated.
Maxwell said staff would be working with the applicant and the two agencies to ensure everyone is satisfied.
Committee chair Nancy Alcock asked Hamilton if thought had been given to a more permanent solution.
Hamilton said the focus has been on getting housing in place as quickly as possible. “I do think the land that we would like to put these trailers on right now does suit the needs for future growth for us in terms of its location, proximity to the resort. So I do believe that future plans will consider putting permanent housing in that area at some point. That would be one of the sort of most effective solutions for us into the future.”
Councillor Jason FitzGerald asked Hamilton how the resort is letting people know that it is looking for housing for its staff. Hamilton said originally the resort would connect employees with someone who advertised space for rent. It has since started connecting with homeowners directly. “And we will rent homes from them. We absorb all the risk of them having staff live in their homes and so if there’s anything that goes wrong with the house it becomes Deerhurst’s responsibility, we’re the one signing the lease, et cetera. That makes it a little bit easier for the homeowner to have faith in that sort of agreement, because obviously you can understand the concern that people have with relative transient people staying there, so it’s mostly been done though our HR department, they reach out when they see postings from people who are looking to rent their houses.”
Hamilton said he believes the resort has exhausted practically every other avenue and said the idea of using trailers has been on the books for some time.
“There will be times of the year where all 49 beds will not be in use, but we will make a point of informing other businesses that have the same challenges as we have, but perhaps in alternative seasons,” said Hamilton. “We will make these beds available to them as well.”
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