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SPECIAL NOTICE ON BALA BAY INN/HOSTEL

The company operating the JW Marriott (Red Leaves) is seeking approval from the Township of Muskoka Lakes (TML) for a zoning change that will allow it to use the Bala Bay Inn/Hostel for staff accommodation.

The application will be heard by Township of Muskoka Lakes Council at a public meeting on Friday, February 15th

 
We encourage people who would like to comment on this application to either:
  • email their comments to planning@muskokalakes.ca
  • attend and speak at the public meeting at 9am on Friday, February 15th in the Council Chambers at the Township’s offices at 1 Bailey Street in Port Carling.
BACKGROUND

For the last few summers, the JW Marriott has been using the Bala Bay Inn/Hostel for housing staff, contrary to current TML zoning by-laws. Then during the summer of 2018, JW Marriott placed 6 sleeping and shower trailers in the parking lot of the Bala Bay Inn to accommodate 80 - 100 staff, also in contravention of TML’s zoning bylaws.  The trailers were ordered to be removed. However, Bala residents complained of significant noise and disruption caused by the Marriott’s staff living in the Bala Bay Inn/Hostel. 
 
JW MARRIOTT'S APPLICATION

The company operating the JW Marriott (Red Leaves) is applying to TML Council to rezone the Bala Bay Inn/Hostel to permit it to be used as Staff Quarters to accommodate staff and contractors working at any tourist resort in TML -- although TML’s Planners understand that “the proposed Staff Quarters are primarily intended to provide staff housing for the JW Marriott”. This would include 36 existing units in the main building, plus 29 units in trailers.

Friends of Muskoka believes that this application should be denied for the following reasons:
  • The noise and disruption caused by the Marriott’s staff living at the Bala Bay Inn/Hostel last summer significantly hurt the enjoyment of Bala by other residents and the town’s sense of community.

  • Permitting the JW Marriott to run a shuttle bus for its staff back and forth from the Bala Bay Inn/Hostel rather than accommodating them on its own property is a ‘band aid’ solution to the JW Marriott’s problem of housing their staff in a location that won’t disrupt their own hotel guests. 

  • A similar problem existed for many summers when Cleveland’s House used the former Lakeside Lodge to house their staff. Despite being only 2 lots away, Cleveland’s House management was not able to control the noise and disruption from their staff that caused summer-long complaints from neighbouring cottagers.  

  • Resorts, including the JW Marriott, should provide staff accommodation on their own properties, where the resort is able to supervise and control their staff’s behaviour.

  • Converting the Bala Bay Inn/Hostel to staff accommodation and a hostel will eliminate rooms available to the travelling public, and reduce Bala’s ability to be a tourist destination where people enjoy the community and spend money in its stores, restaurants and amenities.

  • We encourage TML to consider opportunities for local residents to have employment outside of the summer season, so more local residents are available to work for the resorts during the summer. This would reduce the resorts’ dependence on summer student employees and the need for staff accommodation, and lead to a more sustainable and enhanced local economy.

Poorly planned off-site housing for Clevelands House staff polluted and disrupted Muskoka at Legacy/Lakeside Lodge over several summers. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

You can find additional information on this application in the Notice of Application and in the TML's Planning Staff Report.
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ABOUT FRIENDS OF MUSKOKA
 
Friends of Muskoka are a group of dedicated volunteers working to protect and to preserve the natural environment and unique character of Muskoka by promoting responsible use and development of its land and lakes. Friends of Muskoka believe that the environment IS the economy in Muskoka since millions of people come to Muskoka and invest here because of its clean water and natural, treed shorelines. Our lakes, forests and rivers are a resource that can drive Muskoka’s economy for decades to come if we put the environment first. To this end, Friends of Muskoka is trying to stop residential subdivisions on the waterfront in Muskoka and will work to enshrine sustainable development in the Municipal and District Official Plans.



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