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19-Jan-2018

Brian and Jayne Legree speak out in the case for their embattled campground


Brian and Jayne Legree speak out in the case for their embattled campground

BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF –

Update: On January 17, Grey Highlands council turned down the option to allow 9-trailers on the campground at Hawthorn Cottages & Camping at Lake Eugenia. In the wake of council’s decision, Brian and Jayne LeGree are considering their options including an appeal to the Ontario Municipalities Board (OMB). An online petition to save the campground is still active. The LeGrees continue to urge supporters to sign the petition and email councillors to express their opinion.

On Wednesday, January 3, Grey Highlands Municipal Council Committee of the Whole recommended that their planner prepare a bylaw for nine trailers on the Hawthorn Cottages and Camping (HCC) property at Lake Eugenia. "We want Councillor [Cathy] Little to know how much we appreciate all her work and her support... and we are pleased that the council members looked at it in a more positive way," said Brian LeGree, co-owner of HCC, but he and his wife Jayne LeGree remain dissatisfied.

As they look back on recent history, they have some regrets mixed with many frustrations. “We didn’t come here to fight,” said Jayne in a recent interview with South Grey News. She was referring to their zoning ordeal and the decision that she and her husband made to leave their home in Mississauga and pursue their dream of owning the small resort in the Municipality of Grey Highlands. “We’ve always done what we were told,” she added, listing the many requests made of them to upgrade the facility over their nearly six years of ownership.

She also noted that they have kept pretty quiet throughout the whole process to have legal non-conforming status applied to their property for the operation of their existing 13 campground sites, including the nine sites approved by council on Wednesday. The couple told South Grey News that they will decline council’s offer to maintain only nine sites vowing that they will continue to lobby for the operation of all 13 sites, the remaining four unapproved sites being “transient” and necessary for their business.

“With only nine sites, there would be no sites for campers coming in for a day or two. It’s important that we have those four transient sites for climbers, hikers, bicyclists and other tourists to the area," cited Brian. “These are the people who spend the most money in our community: shopping in town, buying snacks, food and gas at local businesses."

The LeGrees said that the campground's zoning classification changed when the former Artemesia Township was amalgamated into the Municipality of Grey Highlands, which happened prior to their purchase of the property in June, 2012. At the time of purchase, they said they were reassured by their lawyer that the zoning restriction could be easily rectified. They were also quick to note that their lawyer’s opinion was confirmed by municipal staff when they met with them to discuss the situation.

The LeGrees also said that they have many emails and letters in support of their campground from municipal staff, planners, inspectors and the former CAO reassuring them that they were operating the facility in full compliance with applicable codes and the proper disposal of wastewater and grey water from the property. They explained that the water supply is managed under the guidelines set out by the Ontario government as a small drinking water system which requires monthly water quality tests by a private third-party laboratory. “We have put a lot of money into this property,” said Jayne, which included substantial renovations to the cabins, campground and landscaping as well as a $10,000 upgrade to hydro.

The LeGrees are heartened by community support shown to them in what has, at times, become a nasty battle pitting neighbour against neighbour. Jayne explained that the plan to move up here was carried out at her insistence and the stress caused by what she termed as “bullying” and “harassment” from a few of her neighbours has taken its toll.

The LeGrees claim to have traced the history of the campgrounds back to 1890, a time before the lake even existed. They also said that their research uncovered happy memories of camping at Hawthorn’s dating back to the 1950s.

In a groundswell of support around the LeGrees, petitions have collected approximately 1,500 signatures calling for the approval of their application. Many prominent citizens and well-known local families are among the signatories. Their cause has also been supported by previous owners. “You only have to read the reviews on TripAdvisor and Google to see that we run a respectable business,” said Jayne. A quick look online confirmed their claim of five-star status, one of only two such resorts in the area.

In a December 18 Grey Highlands Council meeting Mayor Paul McQueen made a passionate plea to councillors expressing the need for accommodations in Grey Highlands and a desire to work with community stakeholders toward that end.

The owners are optimistic that council will approve their original application for all 13 sites in the next scheduled council meeting on January 17 but are still keeping all options open.

Also read: Hawthorn Campround subjected to public scrutiny


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South Grey News Comment Policy: Comments must be appropriate, respectful and related to the article. Comments will not be approved without a real first and last name and email address. Comments containing profanity, offensive material or personal attacks will not be permitted. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments without notice. Updated Feb 10 2020.

Your comments

Anonymous commented on 24-Jan-2018 06:11 PM3 out of 5 stars
I wonder what the other side of the story is?
Anonymous commented on 31-Jan-2018 06:44 PM3 out of 5 stars
Where is the update and why did council members vote against when they promote tourism and close a 5 Star resort - why didn't the Municipality work with the owners since they worked hard to make a 5 star resort in this area - what will happen to the local business when the camper's and seasonal campers they did have go to another area - what have they done! to a small family owned local business! Elections are soon and it is listed what council member voted no - check out the council members profiles to see if they kept there word if elected to help local business - this mini resort should be treated as a historical resort promoted in the history of Lake Eugenia not shut down - we are all failures here to have let this happen - what an embarrassment we are to tourism here and what a great waist of money the Municipality spent on tourism research ??????? WHAT HAVE THEY. DONE. ;(
Anonymous commented on 03-Feb-2018 03:31 PM3 out of 5 stars
It's a sad day when council buckles when someone mentions election day....these people came here to run a business in our community to make a living and get out of the city and the bull***t that happens there and here they are RIGHT in the thick of it again....what a Great way to welcome them into our community....way to go council you have probably scared away anyone else who would like to run a business in our community...all because someone complained or someone has alittle more competition...well that's what we need around here more competition to make things fair for the consumer...I WILL BE BACK AT HAWTHORNS THIS SUMMER FOR KAYAKING....I can guarantee that...I am so sorry to the Lagree family...Not everyone up here are a**holes...just your neighbors. send this to the council members and get it on page 1 so more of the area people can see how the council we voted on treated these people ! I as well as others already know our vote
Anonymous commented on 06-Apr-2018 10:31 AM3 out of 5 stars
Hi there!
My husband was just browsing on the computer and happened across your website.

I'm a Hawthorn's fan and guest from way back in the early 60's. The
first time I visited Hawthorns the old people owned and operated it.
My father and his fishing buddies used to have a fishing trip there
every year and my Dad decided to take me with him for a holiday. I
think this was about 1962. I was 11 or 12. We had many, many family
holidays at Eugenia staying at Hawthorn's. We loved it. Some of my
best family memories were made there.

Years passed and I had a young family of my own in the 70's. I wanted
to take them to Hawthorn's after learning the business was still open.
So, we began another generation of cottaging. Dan and Doris were
owners at that time. We had more grand times. My parents brought
family members from England to visit and enjoy a holiday there. I
think we had the entire place booked up.

A few years ago while on a visit to the Bruce Peninsula, my husband
and I stopped in to check and see what was happening. There was
nobody about at the time and it looked like the place was never going
to be opened again. I was disheartened. I loved Hawthorn's so much.

Now I see the new website and I almost jumped for joy. Which is kinda
hard since I'm 63 now. That's more than 50 years of having a
connection with Hawthorn's. I'm hoping we can come back and maybe
bring our grandchildren with us. We've lots of stories to tell and
can bring photos too.

Just wanted to let you know that there's folks out there that are glad
to see the business come alive.

Barb (Hulme) Baetz
Anonymous commented on 31-May-2018 12:16 PM5 out of 5 stars
Colluna Property Management was established in Feb 2018, the company is facilitating Vacation Rentals for property owners in Beaver Valley and Grey Highlands.

Our community currently has almost zero tourism, with all that the area has to offer families there is also almost zero accommodations.

Our Mayor and Council need to understand and participate in the local Tourism industry.
It is 2019 and this industry has been virtually ignored in our area.

Has anyone thought about the jobs that the Tourism industry would create in our community?

When Talisman closed it was a huge hit to the area, local restaurants, seasonal employment and summer jobs for local students.

We all know how the sale of that property was completely mishandled by your elected officials!! Where are we now with that situation Mr. Mayor and Council? No tax revenue for how many years? Did you ever collect part or all of the tax dollars that were owing ?

Let's get with the program and join TOGETHER to create a viable Tourism Industry in our community. Professional, Responsible and with Pride.

That will require us all to join hands and work together.

After almost 10 years residing in this community I have witnessed very little cooperation. The norm seems to be small minded thinking, bickering and fighting about little things.

We need to take a look at the big picture, which is the future of our community.



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