Township Watch - December 2020

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

General/Finance Committee - Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Torrance Barrens

Mike Silver, who has worked diligently and passionately on the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve for years, spoke to Committee regarding concerns that he has attempted to have addressed. Mr. Silver explained that the Torrance Barrens (The Barrens) are a crucial and special piece of Muskoka which the Township has “deeply” supported over the years. Mr. Silver stated that he had a productive phone conversation with Wade Murrant from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks where they spoke about “a working group” being established regarding The Barrens. Mr. Murrant invited Mr. Silver and representatives from the Guardians of the Torrance Barrens, the Township, the Water Reserve and the Muskoka Ratepayers to sit on the committee. Mr. Silver suggested that representatives from the Clear Lake Association, YMCA Camp Pinecrest, the Muskoka Conservancy and the Town of Gravenhurst also be invited to sit on the committee.

Mr. Silver had three requests of the Township:

  • that Councillor Ruth Nishikawa be appointed as the Township’s representative on the working committee,
  • that the Township continue to advocate for a fire ban in The Barrens in all correspondence they have with the Ministry, and
  • that a financial request may be made for a specified camping area in The Barrens.

Later in the meeting committee agreed that due to her commitment to parks and trails in the Township, Councillor Nishikawa was the natural choice to be appointed as the Township’s representative.

Safe Quiet Lakes Yearly Update

Colleen Kennedy provided Committee with an update on Safe Quiet Lakes activity over the last few months. Ms. Kennedy explained that the association’s goal is to make Muskoka “safer and quieter”. This past summer Safe Quiet Lakes worked on reducing wakes and speed on the Indian River and Mirror Lake. Their goal is to see projects like this, not only around Muskoka, but for the Province of Ontario. Safe Quiet Lakes is also working on a “Decibel Coalition” as there is no federal legislation to enforce and regulate loud boats. Safe Quiet Lakes’ presentation can be seen here - Safe Quiet Lakes Safe Quiet Lakes.

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

Muskoka Road 169 Active Transportation

In conjunction with the Town of Gravenhurst a request was made to pave shoulders on both sides of Muskoka Road 169 from Torrance to Gravenhurst as active transportation routes. Director of Public Works, Ken Becking explained to Committee that Muskoka Road 169 is a District road. District policy is to add active transportation lanes when a road is being rehabilitated. As there are currently no plans for rehabilitating Muskoka Road 169 in the near future, Mr. Becking provided Committee with three options:

  • to wait until the road needs rehabilitation,
  • to request that District accelerate the timing of rehabilitation of Muskoka Road 169, or
  • pass a resolution requesting that the work be done as soon as possible.

District policy allows for municipalities to request that road work be done as soon as possible with a cost sharing of 50/50 between the District and the requesting municipality. To have the active transportation infrastructure built on the portion of the road that is located in the Township boundaries would cost the Township $188,000.00.

Following a brief discussion, Committee voted unanimously for option two.

Council - Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Municipal Operating Update

CAO, Derrick Hammond, reminded Council that in July the Township passed a re-opening framework and asked department heads to provide Council with updates. Clerk, Cheryl Mortimer, explained that the health unit is still recommending that meetings be held via ZOOM and the installation of internet technology in the Port Carling Community Centre is progressing well. Human Resources Specialist, Sarah Lehman, stated that her department is monitoring the local requirements from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit on workplaces and controls required. She went on to explain that: the Township has appointed a Compliance Officer, many employees continue to work remotely, public interaction counter barriers are being used, staff are wearing masks, keeping social distancing, and frequently washing their hands. Director of Public Works, Ken Becking outlined the changes that have been made to business practices: a space optimization review has been approved, parks, trails and docks are open, arenas were opened in early November and some community centres were opened.

This was for information only and no resolution was read.

Legacy Cottages Condominium Agreement

Director of Development Services and Environmental Sustainability, David Pink, informed Council that extensive negotiations between the Township and the developer of Legacy Cottages had taken place regarding the Condominium Agreement and a draft agreement was before Council for their review. Council heard presentations regarding the following concerns, but not limited to them:

  • that some of the language in the agreement would provide roadblocks to obtaining meaningful information from the resort,
  • the importance of onsite management,
  • unit owners should not have their own boat slips,
  • owners should be prohibited from owning docks,
  • that the resort should set rental rates and not unit owners,
  • personal furnishing in units should be prohibited, and
  • rental rates should be included in the resort’s annual reports to the Township.

Council adjourned into Closed Session to discuss this matter and no public discussion occurred. Following Closed Session, a resolution was read to execute the condominium agreement with an amendment to include the wording “the rental rates charged” in Section 2.5 of the agreement. The condominium agreement can be seen here -  Condominium Agreement Condominium Agreement.


Planning Committee - Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Lake Plans

Lake plans for Skeleton Lake, Three Mile Lake and Little Long Lake were presented to the Planning Committee. Director of Development Services and Environmental Sustainability, David Pink, explained to Committee members that the Township’s Official Plan encourages the development of lake plans, although not many have come forward. Mr. Pink further explained that if details are embedded in the Official Plan and a property owner wishing to exceed their property rights will need to apply for an Official Plan Amendment and not a minor variance.

The President of the Skeleton Lake Cottagers Association explained that Skeleton Lake is a unique lake which was formed by a meteor strike causing a 200 foot deep nearly round crater, it has a small watershed, lies in both the Township of Muskoka Lakes and Huntsville, is exceptionally low in phosphorous and is one of “only a handful” of ultra oligotrophic lakes in Canada. The Skeleton Lake Cottagers Association started its original lake plan in 2008. They involved the entire Skeleton Lake community in the lake plan by sending out a survey, presenting the plan at several annual general meetings and finally approving it in 2014. They had several points they asked the Planning Committee to consider in the Official Plan review process including:

  • harmonizing Township of Muskoka Lakes and Town of Huntsville policies,
  • protect the unique geological history and cultural heritage of the lake, and
  • recognize the lake as a source water under the Clean Water Act.

The Past President of the Three Mile Lake Association explained that their association had started to redo their lake plan three years ago. Although there was no formal submission, she was present to answer questions. As outlined in the staff report the lake plan had several asks of the Township including:

  • retaining a maximum lot coverage of 8%,
  • limit the gross floor area of dwelling to 3,500 square feet and the height to 35 feet, and
  • prohibit two storey boathouses and require 200 feet of frontage for a single storey boathouse.

A member of the lake plan committee from Little Long Lake informed the Planning Committee that Little Long Lake, which is located west of Skeleton Lake, spent the “best part of a year” working on their lake plan. It was explained that the lower half of Little Long Lake was developed with 28 cottages and was the lowest of any developed lake in the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Little Long Lake is sustained by a beaver dam that is 84 feet long and 9 feet tall. There are concerns that if the beaver dam is breached the lake would be “lost” and the flooding trajectory would include Bent River, Highway 141, and Watt school. Scientists hired by the association said that any further development on the lake “will case irreparable damage to the lake”. The lake plan committee asked the Township to:

  • limit dock lengths to 20 feet,
  • prohibit boathouses, and
  • monitor the beaver dam.

All three lake plans and staff comments can be found here - Lake Plan. Lake Plan. A resolution was read to forward the lake plans to the Official Plan Review committee for consideration and inclusion in the Official Plan.

ED Note: Councillor Roberts made an interesting comment that all three of the lake plans were from Ward B and encouraged his fellow Councillors to reach out to the lakes in their wards.

Official Plan Amendment (OPA) - Servicing in Minett Update

Director of Development Service and Environmental Sustainability, David Pink, reminded Committee that Council had voted to circulate OPA49 for public input contingent on the District doing the same with their OPA. As reported in the November Township Watch - Township Watch - November 2020 - the District’s OPA49 for Minett was defeated at the District Engineering and Public Works Committee meeting and has since been ratified by District Council. As a result of this vote, the Township must now review their OPA before proceeding. Mr. Pink hopes to have a verbal update for Committee in January and return with a staff report in February.

It was suggested that the Township’s OPA did not preclude the use of public services and should be circulated as it is written for public comments. Chair Bridgeman informed committee that the Planning Committee would hold a further discussion in the new year.

The Muskoka Ratepayers hope everyone
had a safe and enjoyable
holiday season.
We wish everyone a safe
and happy 2021.







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