SCUGOG: Work on a proposed Scugog Island hotel and resort is moving ahead slowly, with the developer not ruling out the possibility of just building a single hotel on the property depending on market demand at the time of construction.
Scugog councillors approved a staff report this week supporting a Regional Official Plan amendment to change the zoning of the Portview Rd. development, which could see an 80-unit hotel and 150-unit townhouse resort constructed along the shores of Lake Scugog northeast of the Hwy. 7A causeway. The project, which is still in the approval stage, was originally proposed to a former council in late 2005.
According to Scugog planning consultant Jim Dyment, another required amendment to the township's new Official Plan centres around the amount of water that the proposed development would use - 172,000 litres daily - which exceeds the OP's current water use capacity of 4,500 litres for such developments, a condition that came into effect after the project's initial proposal.
Mr. Dyment added that the project could potentially generate up to $42,500 in annual property taxes for the township.
The issue of the project's impact on neighbouring wells has been a concern of nearby residents since the development was initially proposed. Gary Hendy of Genivar and Lino Trombino of the Region of Durham, both of whom were in attendance at the Jan. 28 meeting, said that the development's water use would not impact local wells due to the site's use of water from a deeper aquifer than that used by dug wells, as demonstrated in recent tests. However, Mr. Dyment recommended that the project be built in stages so as to monitor any potential effects on local wells. Should any problems arise once the development is finished, Mr. Dyment recommended that the township take a similar approach to that of golf courses - by putting the responsibility of supplying water in the event of an interruption on the property owner.
"Staff opinion is that we should phase in this development so that we can track how much water is being used and monitor the impacts on neighbouring wells," said Mr. Dyment.
However, the ultimate appearance of the development is yet to be determined, according to architect Peter Favot. The statement drew some concern from Ward 5 Councillor Howard Danson over what exactly council was being asked to approve, as well as the necessity of phasing in a project for water monitoring purposes when studies imply that enough water will be available for the site. Mr. Dyment replied that the report was simply to support the zoning change to get the project moving ahead, while township Planning Director Don Gordon explained that the phasing recommendation was due to both market demand and "pragmatic planning" to address any potential water supply issues that may arise.
"We won't know the amount of units until we know the demand," said Mr. Favot. "We will do a marketing study for hotel and residential portions as we move forward. It will be a costly analysis and one that will take time. We may start with 80 units and then the economy could change drastically. We may phase it in, or may even just build a hotel. We may end up with just a hotel on the site. And until we get more approvals, we can't go to a hotel chain and say we're going with them."