Trailer/RV park at Wye Heritage Marine Resort moves closer to reality

Update: Tay Township has announced that at its March 23 council meeting, Council “approved Zoning By-Law and Official Plan Amendments for 3282 Ogden’s Beach Road to facilitate the development of a recreational trailer park as an accessory use to the existing marina. The amendments permit 74 park model/motorhome sites that will be used for seasonal recreational use, with a portion of the site to be used for boat storage.”

Back in January I reported on a plan by Wye Heritage Marine Resort on southeastern Georgian Bay to add an RV/trailer park to its property at the mouth of the Wye River. The plan, which requires a zoning amendment, met with opposition from residents on the opposite of the river (all of the opposition in fact seems to have arisen there). The issue has been complicated by the fact that the marina is on the western edge of Tay Township, which controls zoning approval, but the residents objecting to the proposal are in the town of Midland.

Wye Heritage has been around since the late 1970s, and spent a few years as Doral Marine Resort before reverting to its original name with the facility’s purchase by Maple Leaf Marinas. Wye Heritage is the largest marina in the region, with 788 slips and is a popular jump-off spot for accessing Georgian Bay Islands National Park and the greater bay area. There has been tremendous consolidation in marina ownership lately, with Maple Leaf leading the way. On Georgian Bay, Maple Leaf also owns Bayport Yachting Centre in Midland, Beacon Bay Marina in Penetanguishene, Wawautosa Marina in Port Severn, South Bay Cove Marina and Blue Water Lodge & Marina in Honey Harbour, Moon River Marina, Georgian Shores Marina in Owen Sound, and Payne Marine in Point au Baril. On Lake Simcoe, it owns Lefroy Harbour Resorts, Lake Simcoe Marine in Bell Ewart, and Kon Tiki Marine on Cook’s Bay. Its portfolio is rounded out by Walkers Point Marina in Gravenhurst, and Baysville Marina on Lake of Bays.

You can download the minutes of the February 10 planning public meeting below, as well as the public information package. Reading between the lines, the project looks to have a more than fair chance of success at moving ahead. As the minutes outline, Wye’s plan entails spots for 30 RVs and an additional 44 “park model” rental trailer units. Among other things, opposition has focussed on the fact that the 74 spaces allegedly will constitute short-term rental units for transient visitors. As the meeting minutes state: “Mayor [Ted] Walker noted there appears to be a misunderstanding with the use of lands as it is being referred to as a trailer park although the proposal has 2 components; model park units and recreational vehicles. Manager Weatherell noted that the term short term rental for this property is also misleading as this is a commercial property which allows for a hotel.” In the discussion of the intent of the proposed development, the minutes state that it was asked if the plan was intended “to provide the existing clients of the marina the opportunity to rent a model park unit to stay overnight with their families. Manager Weatherell was directed to clarify this with the applicant and report back to Council accordingly.”

The development plan extends the trailer units around the base of the marina toward the vicinity of A, B, and D docks, where smaller craft (many without any accommodations) are berthed. I imagine that the marina’s business plan is to capitalize on clients with day boats who might welcome overnight accommodations, either in an RV of their own, or in a rental trailer unit. (Full disclosure: I keep my boat on B-dock. I have no need for land-based accommodation, and have no strong feelings, one way or the other, about this development, provided it doesn’t threaten my ability to retain a slip.)

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