People who own units at Friday Harbour will be able to stay there all year long, as Innisfil council unanimously voted to remove occupancy limits at the resort.
Council made the decision at its Sept. 23 meeting.
When Friday Harbour was established, a rule was implemented restricting occupation of units to no more than 185 consecutive days, and a maximum of 300 days a year.
“The occupancy restrictions ... were a part of a suite of measures that were put in place to ensure that Friday Harbour developed as a resort and not as a conventional residential development,” explained Cheryl Shindruk, executive vice-president of Geranium Corp., a co-developer of Friday Harbour.
Other measures included requiring that resort amenities such as the boardwalk, marina and golf course were completed early on in development, and mandating unit owners become members of a resort association.
Through an official plan and zoning bylaw amendment, Friday Harbour proposed removing the occupancy restrictions.
A planning opinion prepared by Malone Given Parsons Ltd. on behalf of Friday Harbour argued the occupancy restrictions have become unnecessary and impede the continued economic and tourism success of the resort.
The report also states that the resort’s amenities and service capacities have been designed to accommodate full occupancy 365 days a year.
Speaking at the council meeting, Giacomo Parisi, a resort unit owner, said the occupancy limits have proven troublesome.
“Somebody mentioned that there was difficulties in getting financing from bank institutions,” he said. “Allow me to confirm that that is absolutely true.”
Removing the occupancy limit would make it much easier for other prospective owners to obtain a mortgage for their unit, he said.
“They’re hindering success of the resort,” Shindruk said of the occupancy limits.
When the town sought input from community organizations about the impact of removing the limit, the two local school boards shared some concerns.
The Simcoe County District School Board notes there may be unforeseen accommodation pressures in local schools as there are no school sites designated within the resort, and nearby schools are at, or near, capacity.
The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board shared similar concerns, but noted all offers of purchase and sale include a clause that any pupils living at Friday Harbour would be transported to and accommodated outside of the neighbourhood school’s area.
Council voted unanimously to remove the occupancy limit, include more language in the Big Bay Point Resort Secondary Plan to reinforce the fact Friday Harbour is a resort, and not a settlement area, and require the establishment of a professional rental program for owners by the end of 2021.
“I want Friday Harbour to be successful because it is a unique location in Innisfil,” said Coun. Alex Waters.
Council’s decision to make an official plan amendment is subject to approval by the County of Simcoe.
Shane MacDonald, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance