Township Watch - August 2019

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

Council - Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

New Staff

The Muskoka Ratepayers welcome Alec Rogers to his position of Planner with the Township of Muskoka Lakes.


With the new committee structure comes a new process at Council. Council is now working with a Consent Agenda, which means the meetings begin with reports being given by Committee Chairs Councillor Zavitz and Councillor Bridgeman. As minutes from Committee meetings are now approved at Council, Councillors have the opportunity to have an item removed prior to adopting the minutes for further discussion. Minutes are then adopted. Council hears District Councillors provide updates on their committees at the District, followed by Senior Management Reports and finally passing of by-laws.

At this past meeting there was very little discussion on senior management reports and by-laws.

Andy's House

As reported in the July Township Watch Andy's House requested that their development charges and building permit fees be refunded by the Township, and that Township Council support a similar request to the District for the refund of their development charges. Following a brief presentation and discussion, resolutions to refund building permit fees from working capital reserves, to refund development charges and support Andy's House request for support at District were read and carried unanimously.

General/Finance Committee - Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Anchor2018 Township Audit

Nicole White from BDO Dunwoody presented to Committee the results of the Township's 2018 audit. The Township shows healthy positive assets with 21 million in 2018 compared to 17 million in 2017. Although revenue goes up and down depending on the availability of grants to the Township, the Township's net financial assets are growing.

Treasure Shannon Johnson thanked Ms. White for her presentation. Ms. Johnson explained to Committee that the 2018 surplus was due to building permit fees, bank interest and the sale of the Duke House.

A resolution to recommend to Township Council that the audit be accepted was read and carried.

Parking on Currie Street

Ken Becking, Director of Public Works, explained to Committee that a by-law was passed in 2018 to restrict parking on Currie Street. The by-law was passed to reduce the impact of a “land based issue”. The No Parking signs that were erected created a crisis for islanders who relied on the street parking on Currie Street.

Mr. Becking presented three options to committee:

  • remove signage and allow street parking
  • use the unopened road allowance and develop a parking lot
  • acquire vacant land to be used as a parking lot

The lack of parking problems for islanders prior to the erection of the No Parking signs indicated there was sufficient space for on street parking. A resolution to remove the No Parking signs was voted on and carried.

Muskoka Lakes Canada Day Event

Communications & Economic Development Specialist Corey Moore informed Committee that the Township has held a Mayor's Golf Tournament since 1998. This year it was decided to hold a family event on Canada Day in Minett. Through sponsorship, auctions and a VIP area proceeds in the amount of $58,204.00 were raised.

Mayor Harding thanked Corey for his work on the event. Although Mayor Harding felt it had been a “great day” he suggested some changes would be made for next year's event. Mayor Harding emphasized how nice it was to have a family event and not an event limited to golfers.

Strategic Plan

CAO Derrick Hammond explained that the strategic plan is an expression of Council's vision. The current strategic plan was adopted in 2015 with goals that ranged from short term, medium term and long term and most of the goals that had been set out were completed. As the new Council has had “sometime in office” and a new CAO, Director of Public Works and Fire Chief have been hired it is an appropriate time to update the strategic plan. CAO Hammond asked Committee's approval for staff to be permitted to start the Request for Proposal (RFP) for consulting services.

Committee discussed:

  • whether the strategic plan would be a static document or if it would be reviewed?
  • that it would provide a succession plan in 2022 for where Council “was going”.
  • that the strategic plan needs to be a living document as “Council needs to know where they are going, so they can get there”.

Committee voted unanimously to give staff the authority to issue an RFP for consulting services.

Jaspen Park

Under New Business on the agenda, Councillor Hayes raised the issue of camping in Jaspen Park which began in 2017, became very popular is 2018 and came to a head this summer. Even though camping is not permitted in Township parks RV's and tents are being set up in Jaspen Park on weekends. Councillor Hayes requested that No Camping signs be erected.

Ken Becking, Director of Public Works said they could erect the signs, but the signage would not be “pretty or permanent”. Chief Building Inspector Neil Donald explained that Township Parks close at 11 PM and the OPP could enforce it as trespassing.

A resolution to direct staff to erect No Camping signs in Jaspen Park and to review Township camping by-laws was read and carried.

Planning Committee - Friday, August 16th, 2019

Official Plan Review

Director of Planning, David Pink explained that the Official Plan (OP) is a document that describes Council's policies and land uses which are relied on when planning applications are submitted. The OP is a legislative process and is not the views of staff and/or consultants but those of the community. It is expected that the OP review will run into 2020, if not longer.

Chair Bridgeman invited members of the public to come forward and speak. Seventeen speakers voiced concerns/opinions regarding:

  • controlling lakeside development,
  • quiet enjoyment on lakes should be a number one priority,
  • ensuring that the environment is protected,
  • providing a “hard cap” on waterfront development using recreational carrying capacity,
  • providing a clear definition of residential use vs commercial use,
  • having on site staff housing at resorts,
  • protecting the flow of streams,
  • altering “grandfather policies”,
  • ensuring every time something is rebuilt it is improved,
  • “density must be hidden and associated with the Towns and settlement areas, not randomly distributed around the lakes”,
  • improving by-law enforcement, which should include hefty fines,
  • the lack of affordable housing,
  • increasing shoreline buffers,
  • increasing frontages on lots,
  • protecting swamps,
  • protecting shorelines from tree removal by making language in the OP more forceful,
  • permitting only one boathouse per property,
  • reducing dock sizes and prohibiting living quarters on the first storey of boathouses,
  • highlight density and concerns with boat safety, and
  • the need to “look forward” while also reviewing history.

Committee members then voiced the following points:

  • it is important to make the environment first,
  • the Township should curtail massive developments,
  • the Township cannot control noise or boats, but they can control the shorelines,
  • they should review conversion of resort properties to residential use as commercial properties have increased density rights,
  • how does the Township limit people as day trippers that are “leaving an impact” on Muskoka,
  • affordable housing is very important,
  • that the emphasis that morning had been on waterfront properties, and
  • there should be “sunset clauses” that should be put on “grandfathering”.

When asked if “baselines” on lakes in Muskoka were included in the OP, Mr. Pink replied that the District has a lake system health program with wording for water quality assessment in it. Although the Township's OP must conform with the District's OP, the Township does have the ability to be more restrictive.

The meeting was for public input and no resolution was read.

Provincial Officer's Order - Minett Sewage

Chair Bridgeman asked Director of Planning David Pink to explain the Provincial Officer's Order that has been issued to the Marriott in Minett regarding a septic leak on June 30th and July 1st  - Work Order Work Order.  Mr. Pink explained that due to the size of the septic system it was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) and out of the Township's jurisdiction.

Mayor Harding explained that this was a specific order and the Township is making sure everything is being followed. The Ministry has not shut the hotel down, and at the time of the Township meeting, was pumping out their sewage so another overflow could not occur. Mayor Harding stated that it was his understanding that three senior management positions at the hotel had been replaced since the order was issued.

Members of the public voiced concerns regarding the spill being a health issue. Chair Bridgeman echoed comments made by Mayor Harding earlier in the meeting that there was no health issue concerns.

The spill was further discussed at the District Engineering and Public Works Committee on Friday, August 23rd, which the Muskoka Ratepayers attended via webcast. Commissioner of Engineering and Public Works, Fred Jahn reviewed for the committee what had occurred in Minett. Mr. Jahn informed committee members that there were no public health issues in Wallace Bay, that the sewage plant was back “online” and working and that the MECP was ultimately responsible for enforcement of the situation. CAO Michael Duben echoed Mr. Jahn's words adding that the District has a meeting scheduled with the MECP on September 3rd, 2019 and that trucks, at that point, were still hauling “sludge” out bi-weekly but that did not mean the system was not operating properly.

Committee held an in-depth discussion voicing concerns:

  • regarding elevated levels of E.coli,
  • was the spill an engineering problem or a capacity problem,
  • that perhaps the MECP should have been keeping a closer eye on the system, and
  • how often does the MECP monitor these types of systems.

The outcome of the meeting on September 3rd will be reported at a future committee meeting.

This was an information item and no resolution was read.

Recreational Carrying Capacity

Anthony Usher from Anthony Usher Planning Consulting gave a presentation on Recreational Carrying Capacity (RCC). Before he began, Mr. Usher state that he had 47 years experience with recreational and water planning.

Mr. Usher said that RCC is not:

  • a lake capacity or boating capacity,
  • demonstrated by boating studies,
  • a hard study,
  • a “right way” to plan lakes,
  • a magic bullet, and
  • he did not make it.

Mr. Usher reviewed the origin of the RCC and how it is used in Ontario Planning in Sequin. Mr. Usher further explained that the RCC is not the “only tool in the toolbox”. Municipalities' Official Plans can:

  • address minimum frontages,
  • zoning controls can be placed on development sizes,
  • there can be lake specific criteria (ie: lake plans),
  • biophysical and/or water quality stressors can be mitigated, and
  • it can vary lake to lake.

Mr. Usher stated several times he was “agnostic” towards the RCC. Before concluding his presentation, Mr. Usher said he was not advocating for, or selling the RCC, restated there were already “tools in the toolbox” and that if the Township wished to adopt RCC it would be the Councillors “political and social decision”.

Committee then questioned and commented regarding:

  • how to best protect our lakes?
  • does the lake refresh itself in the nonpeak times?
  • it was great to hear both sides of the argument, and
  • that lot sizes are important.

Prior to completing the discussion Mr. Usher stated that Committee should keep in mind that in Sequin besides the north end of Lakes Rosseau and Joseph, the lakes in Sequin are very small compared to the three large lakes in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.

The presentation was for information purposes and no resolution was read.

Ed Note: If this topic is of interest to you, the Muskoka Ratepayers 2019 Yearbook contains an article on it as well.

Walkers Point Marina

The owners of Walkers Point Marina were before Committee for Site Plan Approval. They applied to build a 6900 square foot addition to an existing boat storage building and a new 5380 square foot boat storage rack. Agent for the applicant explained that following the spring flooding boat owners now wish to store their boats on land rather than in their boathouses. Noncomplying boat storage racks have been removed at the request of the Township.

A resolution was read, and Committee voted unanimously for approval.

Telecommunication Tower

Forbes Bros. Telecommunication & Construction requested on behalf of Rogers Communications Inc. to build a 131-foot mono pine cell tower at 13 Lee Valley Drive in Port Carling. As the proposed tower exceeds 100 feet in height a flashing red light may be required at the top of the tower. Staff informed committee that they had contacted Transport Canada asking for confirmation regarding the light. Committee was advised by staff to defer their support for the resolution until confirmation was received on the flashing light.

Committee unanimously agreed to await Transport Canada's decision before the application is circulated to neighbours.


We apologize that the August Township Watch
was later than usual, our board members were
also enjoying some time in Muskoka
without the internet.




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Jun 20, 2020 10:00am to 12:00pm
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