Township Watch - April 2019

The following index should help you in locating an article of particular interest

Senior Staff

The Muskoka Ratepayers would like to thank Chief Administrative Officer, Steve McDonald, for his years of service with the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Mr. McDonald will be retiring at the end of the month and will be missed. A resolution was passed following closed session at Council to authorize Mayor Harding and the Township and District Human Resource departments to negotiate an employment contract for a new CAO.

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Muskoka Conservancy

Scott Young, Executive Director of the Muskoka Conservancy came to the meeting to say “hello” and meet the new faces around the Township Council table. Mr. Young gave the same presentation that he did at the District meeting in January 2019 and was reported in the Township Watch. To read about the presentation please click here - Township Watch - January 2019.

Muskoka Watershed Council

Vice Chair of the Muskoka Watershed Council, Geoff Ross, was in front of the Committee to talk about the Muskoka Watershed Council's 2019 Stewardship Conference. Mr. Ross explained that the conference is a one-day conference held every other year, opposite years to when the Watershed Summit is held. The 2019 conference is titled “Connecting the Drops” with speakers with PhD level academics who are well known for speaking complex science to non-scientific individuals. The conference is being held on Friday, April 26th, 2019 from 9 AM to 4:30 PM in Huntsville.

Ed Note: The Muskoka Ratepayers have two board members attending the conference. If you are interested in signing up please contact the Muskoka Watershed Council at


Building Without Building Permits

Following a discussion at Committee of the Whole in March the Chief Building Inspector for the Township, Neil Donald, was asked to attend the April meeting to provide feedback on what occurs when someone builds without a building permit. Mr. Donald explained that it is his job to ensure buildings/structures are in compliance with the Township's Comprehensive Zoning By-Laws and/or the Ontario Building Code Act. If it is discovered that someone is building/has built a structure without permits an “order to comply” will be issued. This order informs the property owner that they are to obtain a building permit for the structure or remove it. If a structure is not in compliance with the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law and/or the Ontario Building Code Act a “stop work order” will be issued and if necessary, the Township will go to court to rectify the infractions. When a structure is constructed without a building permit, costs of building permits are increased by 50% and planning fees, if required, are increased by 75%.

In reply to a question by the Committee, Mr. Donald stated that when something is built without the necessary permits or permissions, that not only are the property owners charged, but also the contractors.

West Muskoka Food Bank

The West Muskoka Food Bank requested that the Township grant them exclusive use of the Glen Orchard Community Centre, with rental fees waived for the coming five years. A resolution to grant the request was read and carried.

Post Election Report

Township Clerk, Cheryl Mortimer, informed the Committee that clerks from all six municipalities in the District of Muskoka worked together during the 2018 Municipal Election. The entire Post Election Report which was presented for information purposes can be read here -Post Election Report Post Election Report. Councillor Jaglowitz questioned why voter turn out was down, which Ms. Mortimer could not specifically answer. Councillor Nishikawa commented she had heard that seniors had difficulties voting and felt detached from polling stations, Ms. Mortimer replied that there have not been polling stations in the Township since 1997.

Mayor Harding informed Committee that the Province had tasked municipal Clerks with evaluating all candidate financial forms. New to this election, Ms. Mortimer was required to review all candidates' financial forms to ensure that no individual donated money above the total permitted amount.

Ed Note The Muskoka Ratepayers are saddened to read that voter turn out was down across the District of Muskoka. In the Township of Muskoka Lakes voter turn out decreased from 44% in 2014 to 40.83% in 2018. Of note, according to the report there are 5187 eligible “resident” voters in the Township of Muskoka Lakes, only 2491 cast their vote. While there are 11 819 eligible “non-resident” voters in the Township of Muskoka Lakes, only 4452 cast their votes.


Discussion on By-Law Enforcement

CAO Steve McDonald informed Committee that the discussion of by-law enforcement in the Township was one that had been going on for years. While compiling the report on how to enhance customer service, three senior staff looked at how other neighbouring municipalities deal with by-law complaints. It was determined other area municipalities also respond to evening and night complaints the following day. Committee members provided feedback, including but not limited to:

  • that Township by-law enforcement does not work as it does not go far enough,
  • Ward A is not satisfied with the level of by-law enforcement in the Township,
  • that there is a perception between by-law enforcement and stopping behaviour, which is not correct,
  • if you feel unsafe you should call the OPP,
  • if you are disrupted by noise, lights on, fireworks etc. after hours, take pictures and file a complaint the following day,
  • that by-law enforcement information is not easy to find on the website,
  • it is important to be a proactive communicator with people and perhaps all Councillors should have a “cheat sheet” on what to say so all are using the same language while talking to people,
  • this “cheat sheet” would also be easy for others to share,
  • that this issue is really a public relations problem more than by-law, an individual should be able to call into a designated phone line and lodge a complaint,
  • that people do not follow the complaint process as they do not wish to have their names attached to the complaint, and
  • that someone should be enforcing parking restrictions on weekends in Port Carling and Bala.

While waiting for the new Township website to be designed, Mayor Harding suggested that a “band aid” fix be completed on the website regarding locating by-law enforcement and the complaint process. Councillor Mazan offered to take on this challenge and is to report back at the Committee of the Whole meeting in May.

Committee voted to accept the report for information purposes. If you wish to review the By-Law Enforcement Coverage report it can be found here - By-Law Enforcement

Ed Note:The Muskoka Ratepayers want to remind you that if you have a by-law complaint you must follow the proper process, and not just call a Councillor. If the proper process is not followed, the complaint will not be included in data compiled by the Township.


Fire Department 2018 Annual Report & Service Level

Interim Fire Chief Bigrigg informed the committee that the 2018 annual report was a good news report. In 2018 fire loss was down, the number of fires was down, number of injuries were down, and no written complaints were received regarding any of the volunteer fire personnel. Interim Chief Bigrigg stated that all volunteer training was up to the Provincial level required and that the fire department was in compliance with the Emergency Management Protections Act.

Interim Fire Chief Bigrigg told the committee that one-third of fire calls that the department responds to are false calls where fire alarms are going off unnecessarily. These calls cost the Township money, the fire department is forced to mobilize volunteers to respond and trucks are being sent out needlessly. Interim Fire Chief Bigrigg believes that this is a problem that the new permanent Fire Chief will need to address.

Ed Note: The Muskoka Ratepayers feels it is extremely important to point out that in his report, provided to the Committee, Interim Chief Bigrigg wrote “Based on current apparatus age with a credited life span of 20 years, the municipality must replace 1.25 pieces of apparatus annually or 5 apparatus every 4 years. Failure to plan for these expenditures and replacements will leave portions of the municipality with reduced insurance gradings or gradings equivalent to having no fire protection at all.”

Council - Friday, April 12th, 2019

Extension of Interim Control By-Law

Director of Planning, David Pink, introduced this item explaining that an Interim Control By-Law (ICBL) was placed on the Resort Village of Minett in the spring of 2018 for one year, and according to the Planning Act could be extended for a second year. The Township was prepared to extend the ICBL with two site specific exemptions, a private property in Minett and the property known as Lakeside Lodge/Legacy Cottages. Mayor Harding explained to those present that it was in the “best interest of the Township to exempt Legacy” from the extension.

Those who presented stated that:

  • the ICBL was a crucial pause,
  • that the Minett Steering Committee was working very hard,
  • they were sure Council would have given thought to excluding Legacy Cottages, but they felt it was unfortunate,
  • the Township has only one opportunity “to get things right”, and
  • it is critical to allow the Minett Steering Committee to complete their work.

There was no discussion following the presentations. The resolution was read and passed unanimously.

Bell Mobility Telecommunication Towers

As reported in the January Township Watch - Township Watch - January 2019 - Bell Mobility was looking for Township support on three cell towers to be located at 1016 Hamill's Point Road, 1876 Mortimer's Point Road and on Riverdale Road. Since that meeting notice of public consultation was mailed out and no comments were received regarding the proposed tower on Mortimers Point Road. Following the closure of the comment period, comments were received regarding the Hamill's Point Road Tower including questioning why another tower was required and concerns regarding the visual impact and a flashing light being installed on a tower that did not previously have a flashing light. The third tower on Riverdale Road was removed from the application do to concerns received from property owners in the area.

Council discussed concerns regarding a light on the towers as it is not required by Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada (formerly Industry Canada) as the towers are only 98 feet tall. A resolution was read to support the cell towers but only supports the towers if they are not lit during evening hours. The resolution carried.

District of Muskoka Council - Monday, April 15th, 2019

Commercial Air Service Update

Scot Weeres updated District Council on commercial air service coming to Muskoka. It was announced a couple of weeks ago that Porter Airlines will start flying into Muskoka commencing the end of June. The necessary agreements have been signed with Transport Canada, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and Porter Airlines. Porter has agreed to a three-year trial project with 20 round trips yearly. The required security equipment will be put in place by CATSA. This new project will bring revenue into the Muskoka Airport in the form of landing fees and fuel sales.

The Muskoka Airport is the first airport in the country to try this fee for service type of project. Tourism Muskoka, the Towns of Bracebridge and Gravenhurst and RT012 (a Provincially funded tourism group better known as Explorers' Edge) have partnered with the District to provide staff on the ground and transportation from the airport.

Ed Note: The Muskoka Ratepayers congratulates the District on bringing this service to Muskoka.

The Muskoka Ratepayers congratulates Amy Back
on her appointment to the position of Clerk at the District of Muskoka.

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