The site of the proposed Bliss of Hinton project is on lands adjacent to the Hinton Golf Course, pictured here. | Scott Hayes / Jasper FitzhughScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Amendments to the Town of Hinton’s land use bylaw and municipal development plan passed with a 5-2 vote after second and third readings during the Jan. 16 regular council meeting.

A public hearing was held concurrently and saw a full house with an overflow room set up for additional attendees.

The vote helps pave the way for the development proposal put forth by PAR999 Holdings on its proposed Bliss Hotels and Resorts project to be built adjacent to the Hinton Golf Club.

The multi-phased development is designed as a privately operated, integrated experiential learning hotel and luxury resort development with a convention centre plus retail and food and beverage offerings.

The site sits on what is town land. In March 2022, the Town of Hinton announced that a purchase agreement had been secured for PAR999 to acquire a portion of the golf course lands with the aim to showcase the town as an educational and career destination that will become a key sustainable economic driver for the community.

Not all of that is sitting well with some Hinton residents, including Hinton Golf Club President Brad Kopp, who spoke at the public hearing.

“The number of reasons that this rezoning adversely impacts the Hinton Golfing Society is long,” Kopp said.

“However, the fact that the society (with only a few exceptions) has been generally treated like a chewed boot throughout the process is just as concerning for me and gives me very little confidence that anything will change after rezoning is complete.”

“Maybe this was the intention and if so then it has been accomplished: job well done,” he added. “Unfortunately, that gives me no choice but as the golfing society president to get up here and speak firmly against this rezoning bylaw. Allow me to begin by saying that the whole thing has been quite frankly ridiculous. The process leading up to tonight’s meeting and public hearing has been crookeder than a snake backing up a hill.”

Bernie Kreiner, the town’s former chief administrative officer, was more in approval but did have some reservations. In his view, the project will enhance the golf course. 

“The question of the commercial part is more struggling for me because it’s squeezed. Can the town facilitate a solution where the golf course is not harmed, and the project’s commercial activities can still happen adjacent? That’s not finalized and not yet to be determined,” he said.

“We did see at the open house in early January some modifications that seemed to move in the right direction from what was previously drawn of the golf course and its interface with the commercial zone. I don’t know if it’s enough. It’s that stuff that has to happen yet in some fashion.”

He urged town administration to continue those discussions to make that happen as a collaborative effort with the golfing society and the developer.

That sentiment had support. Coun. Stuart Taylor conceded that such a development would affect the golf course.

“It’s also my belief that, in the short-term, council can mitigate these impacts with sensitivity to the needs of the golf course through negotiations with any developers through the sale and future development agreements,” Taylor said.

“In the long term, funds can be set aside from direct property tax revenues and land sales that could enhance golf’s future playability and financial viability in this town.”

The Town of Hinton, the Hinton Golf Society and PAR999 have formed a working group to find a solution that works for all. The land sale is still conditional upon the town approving the final subdivision plan and the conditions of subdivision.

“The real work is done during the subdivision and development agreements,” said Coun. Trevor Haas. “This is just the first step of rezoning.”

As it stands, phase 1 of construction is intended to begin later this year, according to the Town of Hinton’s website.

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 01, 2024 at 12:00

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta

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