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Job losses expected as Horseshoe Valley timeshares close down

'At the end of the day, we will get almost nothing,' laments timeshare owner following judge's decision to close and sell the units
carriage hills outside
File photo

Job losses are certain to result from the closure of two timeshare properties in Horseshoe Valley, a court broadcast over YouTube heard Thursday.

Justice Barbara Conway of the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto endorsed a proposal that Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge timeshare resorts close Jan. 6 and that they be marketed and sold. Administrator of the property, BDO Canada, will become the receiver.

“A lot of people are, unfortunately, losing their jobs” as the timeshare resorts close and contracts for goods and services are cancelled, said Leanne Williams, the lawyer representing the boards for the timeshares.

Wyndham Vacation Clubs has the contract to manage the two vacation properties and also owns a significant number of intervals, or weeks of use, in the properties.

Wyndham spokesman Steven Goldsmith was unable to say what the precise impact would be and how many people could end up out of work as a result of the decision.

“We are evaluating the evolving situation to determine the impact on our associates. In the meantime, we continue to provide outstanding management services to the resort owners,” he wrote in an email.

Carriage Ridge has 78 units within three buildings on eight acres, while Carriage Hills has 172 units in eight buildings on 20 acres running independently from Horseshoe Resort — a major ski and golf resort in Oro-Medonte Township. 

Justice Conway’s order follows a survey circulated to as many of the 11,000 timeshare owners as they could locate for more than 17,000 intervals, concluding that the majority wished to get out of their agreements of the aging and troubled properties.

“The people have spoken, the very point of the survey," she said Thursday.

Because of the lack of interest, there will be no financial restructuring of the properties and no charges to those who chose to exit. The boards of directors for both Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge will remain intact, working with the administrator as the properties close and are then sold.

Representing three of the owners, lawyer Lou Brzezinski said there could well be a great deal of interest in the purchase of the properties. But the owners would like to see a rapid transition. He said for every $1 million in difference in purchase price, each interval owner receives only about $90.

“Even if I get anything, I’ll be happy,” said Cheryl Chaytor, who is sad to see the demise of the timeshare resort she enjoyed for 20 years.

Chaytor said she has learned from her experience and was a much more sophisticated purchaser in subsequent timeshare purchases elsewhere. But, she said, she doesn’t regret the purchase, which cost her $10,000 20 years ago.

Karen Levins, one of the 'three amigos' who hired Brezezinski through crowdfunding, said after all the contracts for management and services such as phone and internet are paid off, the remainder will be divided by the 17,408 integral owners.

So even though the properties are considered valuable and even desirable, there are so many people with interests.

“It’s pennies, because there’s so many owners,” she said. “At the end of the day, we will get almost nothing.”

Just the same, it comes as a relief to Levins and others whose annual maintenance costs were climbing every year.

The vacation units were operating at a deficit from 2015 to 2018 and as an increasing number of owners walked away, they left a greater financial burden to those who remained. About 25 per cent of the owners were considered delinquent.

Part of the problem was that they had contracts in perpetuity. And as many owners were aging, they were concerned about their ongoing obligation for the resort property that had no market value. 

And as the buildings — which began development in 1997 — became older, they required more attention. Levins points to a $136,000 estimate to fix staircases in the buildings at Carriage Hills.

A timeshare purchase, Chaytor said, is not the same as a real estate investment which typically allows for a gain in value over time.

“It wasn’t real estate that we got into. It was a vacation club,” she said. “I used it to the max; I don’t look back on it with any regret. You couldn’t believe some of the places we’ve gone (through the timeshare ownership).”

But, she added, there are people that are devastated that the resort is closing.

About the Author: Marg. Bruineman

Marg. Buineman is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering justice issues based out of BarrieToday. The LJI is funded by the government of Canada
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