'This should not happen': Saskatoon hotel-spa project meets opposition
SASKATOON -- Some residents of The Willows neighbourhood in Saskatoon are raising concerns over a proposed hotel and spa near their homes.
“Nobody ever builds (hotels) in the middle of residential neighbourhoods, the city never allows that and so I would be shocked if they would allow this in this case,” said Bob Cram, a 10-year resident of The Willows.
“I don’t even understand why it’s being considered.”
Dream Development has put forward a concept plan amendment to City Hall, asking for a change in the development plans for The Willows, to allow a commercial development across the street from The Willows Golf and Country Club and adjacent to condos.
Last week, Scandvik Hotels issued a media release with plans for a Scandinavian Boutique Wellness hotel and spa. The idea has been presented as an adult-only spa, with outdoor pools, saunas, steam rooms and massage rooms. The development also calls for a 120-guest hotel, a 100-seat lounge/restaurant with a three-season patio, meeting space and fitness classes.
Cram said residents were first presented with the idea for a development in December 2020. The City of Saskatoon and Dream Development held an online public consultation Jan. 26. In that time, Cram said he’s met with 60 of his neighbours about the proposal with only one person in favour of it.
“This should not happen in any neighborhood and residential neighbourhood in Saskatoon and it’s a dangerous precedent if it does because then they could build hotels and motels around other areas,” Cram said.
Brad Zurevinski, general manager of land development with Dream Development said the goal is to offer amenities for residents of The Willows, but he’s sympathetic to some concerns raised by homeowners through public consultations so far.
“There is some pushback and questions that need to be answered with respect to the plan, but a lot of it comes down to information,” Zurevinksi said, adding one of the biggest concerns is increased traffic in the neighbourhood.
He said Dream is looking at traffic-calming measures in the area of the hotel-spa. He also noted how other neighbourhoods in Saskatoon, including Willowgrove and Evergreen, have commercial uses in the middle of residential areas. He noted however, the hotel-spa development is unlike those other commercial developments.
Ward 7 Coun. Mairin Loewen said she’s heard people supporting and opposing the idea from Dream to change the current neighbourhood plan for The Willows.
She said she’s received between 100 and 200 letters from residents raising concerns about traffic, population density, introduction of commercial uses. She has also heard support for the changes. .
The concept plan amendments Dream proposes would also see the introduction of single-family home lots, where the existing model is condominium developments.
Cram suggested the plan for a Scandinavian spa move a little west, to where the Concordia Club once operated.
“That place has gone bankrupt, that place is closed down. It would be a great spot for it,” Cram said
“We’re hoping the city will reject this.”
In a letter to Mayor Charlie Clark, Bronwyn Eyre, MLA for Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota wrote how a "substantial number of residents" all of which who are against the plan reached out to her expressing concerns of population density and increased retail space.
"Their main concern centers around a hurried process and a perceived, utter lack of consultation by Dream with them about the substantial changes being proposed under the plan," Eyre wrote.
She's calling on the city to ask Dream Developments to withdraw its current plan and to hold full and transparent consultations with residents of The Willows before another plan is submitted in the future.