MELFORT — Melfort council has voted to permanently the southern access to the Bluebird Hotel, located where Shadd Drive meets Highway 6.
“The reality is the master transportation plan that was done a couple of years ago by a professional who does that for a living identified that as a dangerous intersection and created some liability for the city when he presented those findings for the city,” said Rick Lang, Melfort’s mayor.
Lang said the identification presented a liability for the city.
“Once it is identified, everything changes. Once we have a professional come in and tell us, ‘That is a safety issue’ then it is something that needs to be addressed.”
Discussion has been going on about closing southern access since 2016 between the city and the Bluebird Hotel. Lang said these discussions have caused a several year delay.
“There was some resistance from the property owner, so we were trying to convince the property owner that we needed to take out that approach, and we wanted him to agree that, ‘Yes, you need to take out that approach’. And then we wanted him to agree that, ‘Yes, my two other approaches could use some work, could the city help us?’ Yes we can.”
Bluebird’s primary entrance, to the south, has an access through that street and will be affected by the access closure.
One problem expressed by the Bluebird Hotel is that their northern entrance has a steeper hill and requires driving an extra block.
“There are two approaches from the north,” Lang said. “One is steeper, as the property owner said, but the city has been talking with the property owner for the last couple of years and said, ‘We will mitigate the angle of that approach to make it more acceptable’. And so far he has rejected that.”
Kirk Oh, general manager of the hotel was present at the meeting on June 10 to express his opposition to the motion. He brought more than 100 signatures on a petition opposing it.
“For the property the main gate is the most important thing for us,” Oh said. “It’s very steep, in the winter season they cannot go out.”
“The main entrance is the main, critical, main thing for our business and the guests as well… Facing south is [the] most important part for us.”
Lang said without an agreement reached, the city addressed the safety concerns but wasn’t able to address the Bluebird’s concerns.
“We don’t know what the fallout will be,” Lang said. “But it was the right decision based on the expert advice we got.”
He said that in his opinion, the street closure won’t affect the business for the hotel.
“Put it this way, if you were going to go to the Bluebird Inn, would you need that approach from the front? Or could you get in the Bluebird Inn by driving up to Spruce Haven Road and hanging a right and then taking one of those two entrances?”