Ski hill aims to become a year-round operation

Eagle Lake is getting an Eagle’s Nest

By James Matthews (Local Journalism Initiative)
You read that correctly: Dysart town council gave the go-ahead for Sir Sam’s Ski and Ride to erect a 20-metre-high observation tower.
In his presentation to council during its Sept. 27 regular meeting, resort owner Doug Wilkinson said the tower will be called, The Eagle’s Nest. And it will prove to be an economic boon for the resort and other area businesses.
The Eagle’s Nest will include a viewing platform and will be located atop Sir Sam’s ski hill.
The proposed use of an observation tower is not permitted within the current zoning of the property. So ownership petitioned council to amend the zoning bylaw.
Council directed that an amended bylaw be brought to its next meeting and that the new legislation be approved.
“It was our goal to ensure that Sir Sam’s remains a viable part of Haliburton County well into the future,” Wilkinson said.

As part of that goal, the resort would need to transform into a year-round destination as opposed to a single-season, three-month business. It will attract local residents and tourists from outside the county.
“Our transformation’s goal is to modernize and build on the overall reputation of Sir Sam’s,” he said.
And The Eagle’s Nest is a big part of enriching the hill’s current amenities. It will be beneficial for people who like to visit the area in the fall to appreciate the colourful foliage. And, that traffic to the hill, he said, will benefit local businesses.
“It will actually allow us to offer better jobs,” Wilkinson said. “The people who would leave us at the end of winter won’t have to do that.”
Many people already drive along Highway 35 to Dorset Lookout Tower and onto Algonquin Park to view the autumn forest change of colours. Those are people that bypass Haliburton Village and other parts of the county.
The Eagle’s Nest would also complement the resort’s current hiking and biking programs and become a destination for weddings and other events.
Kris Orsan, the town’s senior planner, said all the requirements of the Planning Act such as informing neighbours and advertising the project have been completed.
Some adjacent property owners were concerned about people wandering through their properties. The ski resort would need to erect signage to highlight property lines for tourists.
Wilkinson said the tower will be about the height of an average tree on the property. It’s of similar size as one of the existing ski lift support structures.
“This is not meant to be a mammoth structure,” he said.

Mayor Andrea Roberts said the addition is an exciting tourism opportunity.
“This will be a great addition for Haliburton County as well as Dysart,” the mayor said.
Sue Harrison, a planning agent for the resort owners, said the viewing platform is a means to introduce a new use for Sir Sam’s.
“Sir Sam’s has always been a good neighbour and will continue to be so,” Harrison said. “The Eagle’s Nest won’t change that.”
Agatha Small, a local resident, asked Wilkinson if there’ll be cameras atop the tower to ensure safety. And she wanted to know if there’s gates and barriers to keep people off adjacent properties not associated with the ski hill.
The towers will not be used in the winter and it will be locked when it isn’t being used. Wilkinson said nobody wants people randomly wandering about the area.
“We get people who walk through the property all the time, even though it’s clearly marked that they shouldn’t,” Wilkinson said. “We don’t want them to access the tower.”
After it was agreed by council to amend the bylaw, Roberts said the tower will be a good addition to Sir Sam’s.
“I have some very memorable family photos taken over Thanksgiving weekends at the top of that hill,” Roberts said. “It will be nice to get more of an eagle’s eye view being 60-feet higher.”

Council permission plows the way for syrup production
Council granted a maple syrup producer permission to assume snow clearing responsibility along a length of Kennaway Road.
Pefferlaw Creek Farms of Uxbridge is a maple syrup collection, production, and marketing farming business. The proprietors bought some vacant land on Kennaway Road north of Wilberforce.
John Tomory, president of Pefferlaw Creek Farms, said they plan to open a sap collection operation there and a process facility afterwards. There’s also some potential for an agri-tourism attraction to be set up.
They hope to hire at least five people from the Wilberforce area
Kennaway Road is not maintained in the winter and access will be a problem if the property is used during the snowy months.
The driveway is about 500 metres away from the intersection of Kennaway Road and Burleigh Road. Since Burleigh Road is maintained and plowed through the winter, Tomory said they would need to find a way to plow what would be the 500 metres of driveway.
“The ideal solution is to add it to the municipal plow program,” said Tomory. “I understand that’s probably a stretch.”