Township Watch - August 2021

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

Special Planning Committee - Friday, August 6th, 2021

Official Plan Amendment 56 - Resort Village of Minett

A Special Planning Committee meeting was held to discuss and review Official Plan Amendment (OPA) 56 for the Resort Village of Minett - OP Review - Minett. Director of Development Services and Environmental Sustainability, David Pink, explained to Committee that following the public meeting held on May 28th, 2021, staff were directed to return with a report which was before Committee.  Once comments are received from Committee members, staff will return with another draft.

Committee members heard comments from the public including but not limited to:

  • there should be a consideration to development phasing,
  • support for not permitting further docking,
  • the reduction in density suggested by the developer is all on the far side of Juddhaven Road and perhaps, it could be reviewed and split 50/50 on each side of the road,
  • support that a plan should be submitted for the entire area,
  • limiting boat launching to one boat per hour if there are more than 11 boats in the area,
  • this development is more than 10 times the size of Clevelands House,
  • there is no staff accommodation in Minett,
  • more community involvement of Minett is needed as “most people have no idea what is going on”,
  • offering support for the exclusion of non-Red Leaves lands and servicing, but not supporting flexibility of setbacks or building heights of five storeys, and
  • language needing to be strengthened further.

Paula Bustard, Planner for the development stated that they were in support of the recommendations outlined in the report - Meridian Meridian Report.  Ms. Bustard stated they reduced the density in response to community concerns but could not support the reallocation of the reduction.  According to Ms. Bustard the density at the lake was reduced at the beginning of negotiations with the Township and community.  The developers were able to support height restrictions of five storeys but asked that a “storey” be defined.

Committee then reviewed and discussed the nine recommendations put forward in the report, commenting that:

  • a reduction in density would be more meaningful if it was on the waterfront,
  • the recommendation should remove the wording “R1 & R2” from where the reduction in density would be,
  • Legacy Cottages will be required to connect to services once they are installed in Minett,
  • there were concerns with “flexibility” in setbacks,
  • flexible setbacks could be supported if they only applied to non-accommodation units,
  • a height limit should be put in place, not the number of stories,
  • height should be limited to where the highest windowsill can be reached by a fire ladder,
  • height should be measured to the tree line,
  • a hold on the number of docks currently in place and those already approved is a good thing,
  • they supported the need for staff housing at the proposed resort, and
  • they would like to see track changes where wording was strengthened, and where it was not.

As discussions took place, Mayor Harding reminded Committee that without a change to the Official Plan the developers currently have development rights of 4,200 units on the property.  Mayor Harding further reminded Committee that if the developers brought an application to the Township before the OPA was passed, it would be assessed on the current Official Plan.  Lastly, Mayor Harding again reminded Committee that Mr. Goldhar has been at “the table” negotiating.

On several occasions Committee members stated that it was difficult to offer comment and/or make decisions when there was not an application  before them.

Mr. MacDonald, consultant from Meridian Planning, reviewed a couple of points he had made in the report and stated that the development may be impacted by floodplain mapping and that although detail was provided for development at the waterfront the plan becomes “fuzzy” as it moved further back.  Mr. MacDonald assured Committee that he read all submissions, but stated that the draft OPA was written based on his professional judgment and not all comments will be considered.  It was requested that Mr. MacDonald inform Committee at the next meeting why submissions were not included.

A resolution was read and carried that a revised draft of OPA 56 be prepared for Committee.

General/Finance Committee - August 11th, 2021

Marina Road Parking (Walker’s Point)

Island property owners, who continue to be upset by the No Parking signs on Marina Road, were before Committee again this month voicing concerns, including but not limited to:

  • street parking is permitted across the Province,
  • they were not contacted prior to the by-law being passed,
  • the process lacked accountability and transparency,
  • no islander has ever parked on both sides of Marina Road,
  • the Township should allow parking for visitors to Muskoka,
  • staff said the road could accommodate two lanes of traffic and cars parked on the side of the road, and
  • all islanders get for taxes is garbage pick-up and roads.

Committee also heard from a resident of Marina Road who stated that this is not an easy situation for anyone.  The residents on Marina Road feel that the No Parking Signs have made the road safer and removing the sign is not the solution.  She stated that the other day two large vehicles were attempting to pass each other, and even without vehicles parked on the side of Marina Road it was a “tight” situation.

These delegations were for information and no resolution was read.

Beaumaris Road Parking

The two-hour limit parking on Beaumaris Road has also become an issue.  Those voicing concerns to Committee raised the following points:

  • two-hour parking is really no parking,
  • the process of installing the limited parking time did not include islanders,
  • an opportunity exists to study the parking situation in the Township, but parking should be allowed until the study is completed,
  • parking is extremely limited in the area,
  • allow status quo to continue until the Transportation Master Plan is completed,
  • Council needs to align their interest with residents well being,
  • transparency and accountability are needed with public consultation,
  • at the very least Council needs to align with islander interests,
  • there is not local opposition to parking on Beaumaris Road, and
  • there are no safety concerns with parking on Beaumaris Road.

These delegations were for information and no resolution was read.

Township - Island Parking & Communique

Councillor Roberts explained that he had requested that this item be added to the agenda.  The discussion was not to specifically respond to delegates.  Councillor Roberts stated:

  • that the Township does not have a position on island parking, 
  • all members of Committee are aware that it is an issue but there is no inexpensive or quick solution to the problem,
  • it is not up to the Township to rectify the situation, but Council can and should help with the situation, and
  • nothing is done without cost which would be reflected in the tax levy.

In reply to Member Roberts comments, Committee members raised that:

  • the actions of Council caused the parking issues on Marina Road, and it was up to them to repair it,
  • all actions of Council have consequences,
  • Council felt they were solving a safety issue on Marina Road but caused more problems,
  • Council did not cause the problem, they just brought it “to light”,
  • the Township has to review parking across the Township as a whole and not in bits and pieces, and
  • the Township did not communicate the No Parking situation on Marina Road well and changed a long-term unwritten contract.

CAO Hammond explained to Committee that although they need to look at the community as a whole, the Transportation Master Plan is not simply reviewing water access and is a “meaty” topic.  Mr. Hammond reminded those in attendance that the Township is currently reviewing their Official Plan which allows for input from the community.

Councillor Roberts reminded Committee that those presenting stated that Director of Public Works, Ken Becking and Fire Chief, Ryan Murrell, had said there were not safety concerns on Marina Road, which is not what Councillor Roberts heard.  Councillor Roberts heard Mr. Becking and Chief Murrell being “very careful” with their answers.  Lastly, Councillor Roberts pointed out to Committee that two-hour parking on Beaumaris Road was enacted in 2002 and was not a new initiative.

Committee members requested a staff report on the situations.  No resolution was read.

Food Rescue in Muskoka Lakes

Amy Snow, a 16-year resident of Muskoka and 10-year cottager prior to that, recently learned how dire poverty is in Muskoka.  Ms. Snow explained that she has become involved with food rescue, which is the redirection of good food surplus instead of sending it to the landfill and that the amount of food that is wasted is staggering.  It is important to educate people to understand when food is garbage, that no organics should go to the landfill they should be composted, to understand when food can still be used and understand “best before” dates versus “expiry” dates.

Many of those residing in Muskoka who have seasonal employment rely on benefits during the other months of the year.  Statistics show that these monies do not cover food and housing.  While working with other organizations Ms. Snow realized that most organizations are located in town centres which does not help those in rural settings who cannot get to the food assistance.  Ms. Snow reached out to Fire Chief Murrell to see if fire stations that have stoves would allow a freezer to be installed and assist in moving the food.  Chief Murrell stated that Ms. Snow had agreed that the food could also be used to feed fire fighters who were battling fires for four plus hours.

Ms. Snow said she was present to ask for further discussion so they could see if the pilot project worked.  Following a short discussion, it was decided that the initiative should be further investigated, and Chief Murrell should return with a staff report.  No resolution was read.

Ms. Snow’s presentation can be found here -Food Rescue Food Rescue

2022 Budget Guidelines

Director of Financial Services, Mark Donaldson, informed Committee that staff were recommending a net levy increase of 5% over the 2021 budget which equates to $630,000.00.  The increase would be divided by Operating Expenses at 1 1/2 %, or approximately $190,000.00, to maintain current service levels and 3 1/2%, or approximately $440,000.00, would be an increase in reserves over what was placed in reserves in the 2021 budget.  Mr. Donaldson explained that this would equate to a rate increase of 3.7% or $22.70 per $500,000.00 of assessed property value. Based on feedback received following the 2021 budget process, the Operating and Capital reports will be “much more readable and user friendly”.  The Township will open the Engage Muskoka Lakes platform - Budget Process Input - to elicit ideas from the public on the budget.  This information will help form the draft 2022 budget to be presented later this year.

A resolution was read and carried.  Mayor Harding stated that he will accept the 5% increase at the General/Finance meeting but would hope to be able to decrease it to 4% during budget deliberations.

ED NoteThe Muskoka Ratepayers commend the Township of eliciting public input on the 2022 budget.

Council - Wednesday, August 11th, 2021

Service Delivery Enhancements in COVID-19 Environment

CAO, Derrick Hammond, informed Council that staff were suggesting service enhancements based on the delta variant, Provincial and Municipal re-opening plans, and advice from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.  Mr. Hammond stated that services would be increased with the protection of staff and Council in mind.  Staff suggested that as of September 13th, 2021, in person meetings could be held by appointment for 15 minutes.  Changes to Committee and Council meetings were not being suggested and will continue based on the current format.

Councillors questioned when a receptionist would be hired to answer the phones, when a target date would be set for in-person Committee and Council meetings and why appointments were limited to 15 minutes.  Township Clerk, Cheryl Mortimer, explained that her department is not currently fully staffed but a receptionist would be hired as soon as they can.  Mr. Hammond explained that the Township had already discussed a target date of January 2022 for the resumption of in-person Committee and Council meetings.  Opening the office for transactional appointments which could be completed in 15 minutes was part of the interim stage of opening. 

Due to concerns that COVID numbers could rise, staff’s resolution was amended to include wording “pending changes to Provincial guidelines”.  The resolution was then read and carried.

Planning Committee - Thursday, August 12th, 2021

Race Boat Museum

As reported in the May Township Watch - Township Watch - May 2021 - there is an application for a Race Boat Museum and Events Centre in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.  After hearing concerns from neighbours and a discussion by Committee members, the application was deferred for a second time.  The deferral was requested to allow the proponent and staff to discuss:

  • the principal use being a race boat museum, not an events centre,
  • having a traffic study done during the summer,
  • removing the storage building,
  • reducing the floor area,
  • potentially reducing hours of operation,
  • a vegetative buffer, and
  • lighting plan.

Community Improvement Plan - Bala and Port Carling

Communication & Economic Development Specialist, Corey Moore, informed Committee that the Township has been working on the Community Improvement Plans since early spring.  The community engagement phase has been completed and they are beginning to draft the plans.  The plans will include identified priority areas, streetscape plans, urban design plans and possible business incentive programs.  Once approved by Committee and Council, the plan will be available to the public at an Open House to receive public comments.  Lastly, the plans will return to Committee for final approvals.

A representation from The Planning Process, Donna Hinde, and Clark Hoskin from MDB, consultants for the project presented the plans to Committee.  Ms. Hinde explained that they had identified opportunities to improve the public realm including parks and streets and direction to improve private property.  Ten key components were identified for both Bala and Port Carling including anchor parks, Muskoka moments, access, docks, gateways, streetscape improvements on Muskoka Roads 169 & 38 & 118, intensification, possible locations for pop-up stores, wayfinding, and guidelines.  As well, defining “Muskoka style”.  An important topic was “safe ways” for pedestrians to travel in Bala and Port Carling.  The removal of parking spots and the installation of sidewalks is being proposed, as well as dedicated crosswalks being installed in both communities.  Ms. Hinde explained that staff and Council will be faced with making the decision of how to use very limited space for parking or pedestrians.

Clark Hoskin then reviewed for Committee the engagement that occurred, comparable municipalities, emerging trends, proposed priorities, administrative considerations, the implementation of priorities and tools and budget considerations. 

Following a brief discussion where members of Committee voiced support for the plans, a resolution to finalize the draft Community Improvement Plan and have it proceed directly to Council was read and carried unanimously.

The Draft Community Improvement Plan can be seen here -Community Improvement Community Improvement

Fireworks By-law Update

Mike Down, a private citizen and Dawson Currie, President of the Moon River Property Owners Association (MRPOA) asked Committee to “revisit” the Township’s fireworks by-law.  Mr. Down asked that fireworks be limited to statutory holidays or by Township issued permit, no longer Friday and Saturday nights that the current by-law permits.  The request was made as there are environmental implications to fireworks being set off over our bodies of water and the plastic landing in the lakes.  There are also implications to wildlife.  Mr. Currie spoke in support of the suggested changes saying that MRPOA has had an increase in “commentary, questions, complaints and volume” of fireworks on the Moon River this year.

Committee members were pleased to see this by-law brought forth and asked that the by-law be reviewed.  With the end of summer approaching, it was suggested that the problem of fireworks would cease for the coming eight months....but not all members agreed.

This item was for information and no resolution was read.

Official Plan Review

Due to the length of the Planning Committee meeting, this item was deferred to a previously scheduled Special Council meeting Tuesday, August 31st, 2021.

By-law Enforcement - Site Alteration and Tree Preservation

Prior to this item being introduced one delegate spoke on the matter.  Director of Development Services & Environmental Sustainability, David Pink explained that the legal opinion Committee asked be obtained had confirmed that the Township cannot revoke building permits when there is a breach in the site alteration or tree preservation by-law.

Before Committee was able to hold an in-depth discussion, the Township’s internet connection became unstable.  After several attempts to continue the meeting, it was adjourned.  This item was also deferred to the previously scheduled Special Council meeting Tuesday, August 31st, 2021.

Ratepayer Members - Have you submitted your proxy to vote at the
AGM on Saturday, August 28th, 2021?
If not, you can do so here - Proxy Email Form

Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

TML - Committee of Adjustment
Dec 13, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - General / Finance Committee
Dec 15, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
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Dec 15, 2021 1:00pm to 5:00pm
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Dec 16, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
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