Fu­ture of Thorn­hill ski hill in limbo

City of Vaughan has sent out a re­quest for bids for new man­age­ment of fa­cil­ity

Richmond Hill Post - - News - by Jes­sica Wei

The Up­lands Golf and Ski Club, lo­cated across 36 hectares in Thorn­hill, near Yonge Street and River­side Boule­vard, is open­ing the floor for new man­age­ment ahead of the con­tract ex­piry with Smirnov Golf Man­age­ment Lim­ited in Novem­ber.

Af­ter a pub­lic in­quiry for ideas on how to re­pur­pose or use the prop­erty — owned by the City of Vaughan — which yielded few re­sponses, the city has put out a re­quest for pro­pos­als from or­ga­ni­za­tions who might want to take over the green space.

“We spent some time with the com­mu­nity and asked them about their in­ter­ests and con­cerns about the prop­erty,” said Alan Shef­man, Ward 5 coun­cil­lor for the City of Vaughan.

“There’s a very strong feel­ing that it should be re­tained, and that it’s an important green space for the peo­ple who live in the Up­lands area,” he said.

The rev­enue-neu­tral con­tract means that ex­penses in main­te­nance and amenity up­grades are ab­sorbed by the prof­its of the club it­self and not the tax­pay­ers, but pe­ri­od­i­cally, the city re­tains the right to ask its con­stituents for their opin­ion on how the green space should be man­aged and to consider other bids.

Ben and Scott Smirnov, who have man­aged and con­trolled the prop­erty for the last 17 years, are keen on re­new­ing their con­tract.

“I be­lieve we’ve im­proved the con­di­tion of the re­sort,” said Ben Smirnov, the di­rec­tor of golf op­er­a­tions at Up­lands Golf and Ski Club.

“We’ve done a good job. I think the city is just look­ing for other op­tions, to see if there’s some­thing else. But we’ll try to re­main, sure. We’ve been there a long time.”

Since the last con­tract re­newal, the city has handed the over­see­ing of the prop­erty to City of Vaughan Trans­porta­tion Ser­vices, Parks & Forestry Op­er­a­tions. They hope to up­grade the golf club­house and in­crease mar­ket­ing ef­forts in or­der to reach more schools and par­ents.

Shef­man said the city is ask­ing for any new bid­ders to look at in­fra­struc­ture re­newal, as the site re­quires up­grades and re­pairs es­ti­mated to cost be­tween $750,000 and $1 mil­lion.

“This is a place where ev­ery kid who lives in the area has been there to learn how to ski, how to snow­board and to golf,” said Shef­man.

Ac­cord­ing to Shef­man, the City of Vaughan hopes to reach an agree­ment by Novem­ber and they’re con­fi­dent they will meet this tar­get.

I be­lieve we’ve im­proved the con­di­tion of the re­sort.”

Coun­cil­lor Alan Shef­man at the Up­lands Club in Thorn­hill

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