Future of Thornhill ski hill in limbo
City of Vaughan has sent out a request for bids for new management of facility
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