Township Watch - January 2019


Senior Staff

CAO Steve McDonald has informed Council that he will be retiring at the end of April 2019.

Fire Chief Richard Hayes has given notice to the Township and will be moving to London, ON where he has accepted a position as the Deputy Chief of Operations. Chief Hayes last day is February 1st, 2019.

The Muskoka Ratepayers' Association wish CAO McDonald and Fire Chief Hayes all the best in their future endeavours.

At the commencement of the Committee of the Whole meeting CAO McDonald introduced Ken Becking who joins senior staff as the Director of Public Works. Mr. Becking comes to the Township with 30 years of municipal experience in City Engineering in Owen Sound and Kawartha Lakes and County Engineering in Renfrew County. Welcome to the Township Mr. Becking. We look forward to working with you.

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Cell Towers

Township planner Rian Allen explained to committee that an application had been received from Bell Canada for three cell towers. The proposed mono pine towers will be 98 feet in height and will not be lit. Mr. Allen explained that staff were looking for direction to inform property owners in the vicinity of the towers and that no decision about the towers would be made that day. As per Township policy, committee voted to inform property owners within 90 metres of the towers which are proposed to be located at 1016 Hamill's Point Road, 1876 Mortimers Point Road and on Riverdale Road.

Once public comments are received, they will be supplied to Council who will then be asked for a support resolution.

First Storey of Boathouse Use

Director of Planning, David Pink, explained to committee that the planning department has become aware that main floors of boathouses are being used as habitable space. The trend of seeing one large room on the first storey of a boathouse being used as a living room goes against the Official Plan and Comprehensive Zoning By-Law. The first storey of boathouses is limited to boat and marine storage, except for a small washroom, utility room or sauna. Staff voiced concerns that if this usage is allowed these rooms could possibly become sleeping areas and that enforcement is extremely difficult. It was explained that if Committee wished to limit the use of the first storey of boathouses, changes would be required to the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law...perhaps including measurements of docks and slips.

Committee discussed whether to limit this use and concerns were raised regarding:

  • that Muskoka has many dry boathouses
  • neighbours do not like to complain about neighbours
  • Township By-Laws are complaint driven
  • that the Official Plan says “built form” shall not dominate and this does not affect the built form
  • what is the bigger threat, more boats on the lake or more septic systems?
  • this would allow for more people to be on the property than a septic system is built for

It was decided that staff would return to committee with more information. No resolution was read.

Examples of the above discussed use can be found here - Boathouses Boathouses

 

Ed. Note: The MRA believes that the use of the first storey of a boathouse should be limited to boat docking and marine storage as outlined in the present zoning by-law. Once living space is permitted, boundaries and restrictions will continue to be pushed.

Bill 66 - Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act

Mr. Pink explained to committee that Schedule 10 of Bill 66 - An Act to restore Ontario's competitiveness by amending or repealing certain Acts, includes an amendment to the Planning Act that is drastic. This amendment allows for Municipalities to pass an “Open For Business Planning By-Law” which can strip away environmental protections if a business meets the requirement for job creation threshold of a minimum of 50 jobs. The by-law would then be sent to the Province for approval, without the need for public consultation and no rights of appeal. Although not obligated to provide comments to the Province, committee agreed to recommend to Council that a resolution be passed informing the Province that the Township “opposes the passage of Schedule 10 of Bill 66”. This resolution went directly to Council on Friday, January 18th and carried.

Ed. Note: The MRA fully agrees that this amendment is not acceptable for Muskoka where our environmental protections are so important.

Bala Falls Hydro Project

Three individuals, Bill Purkis, Mitchell Shnier and Meredith Cartwright presented concerns regarding Swift River Energy Limited being granted a permit to “withdraw” water from Lake Muskoka. Their concerns included, but were not limited to:

  • the power plant will drown people
  • traditionally the south falls has the water flow during the summer months to protect the Township dock and the docks at Purk's Place in Bala
  • that the power plant will operate from noon until 6 or 7 PM and no water will going through Bala except the required minimum of 1 cubic metre per second
  • falling out of a canoe should not be the last thing you do, but could be if you fall out and “get pulled in” to the power plant
  • that the plant not be allowed to operate during inwater recreation times (May to Thanksgiving weekend) and until an adequate safety plan is provided
  • that the Province, the District of Muskoka and the Township are missing important data
  • that the Township should ask the Province for an updated Environmental Screening Report

Following the presentations, committee agreed that it would be appropriate to put “our stake in the ground” per Mayor Harding and send a message to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The resolution was brought directly to Council the following day and carried unanimously.

Muskoka Lakes Public Library Annual Report

Chief Librarian, Cathy Duck, provided committee with an update of library activity in 2018. Mrs. Duck outlined the history of both Township libraries, what programs the library offers for not only youth but all ages, what new programs were offered in 2018 and that the Port Carling library was staffed with 60 volunteers in 2018. The entire presentation can be found here -Library Library

Council - Friday, January 18th, 2019

Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce & Bala 150 Committee

Norah Fountain, General Manager of the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce, explained to Council that there had been a wonderful celebration for Bala's 150th birthday last summer. The Bala 150 committee had one last act of giving back and presented the Township with an official Bala 150 photo where close to 700 people gathered to be photographed. The picture will hang in the Bala arena beside the picture commemorating Bala's 125th birthday.

Ms. Fountain then explained to Council that when people come into the Chamber office and ask that a document be photocopied or faxed, the Chamber asks for a donation for the West Muskoka Food Bank or the Port Carling Health Hub. Ms. Fountain presented the Township with a cheque for the Health Hub of just over $600.00 that was collected in the latter part of 2017 and 2018.

Council Members on Community Centre Hall Boards

A by-law was passed appointing Council members to hall boards. Here are the appointments if you wish to make note of your Community Centre Hall Board liaison:

Bala - Councillor Glenn Zavitz
Cardwell/Hekkla - Councillor Susan Mazan
Foot's Bay - Councillor Barb Bridgeman
Glen Orchard - Councillor Peter Kelley
Milford Bay - Councillor Susan Mazan
Peninsula (Minett) - Councillor Frank Jaglowitz
Port Carling - Councillor Peter Kelley
Raymond - Councillor Gordon Roberts
Torrance - Councillor Ruth Nishikawa
Ullswater - Councillor Allen Edwards
Walker's Point - Councillor Donelda Hayes
Windermere - Councillor Allen Edwards

Recreational Cannabis

As reported in the November and December Township Watch publications - Township Watch - November 2018 and Township Watch - December 2018 municipalities were granted the option to “opt out” of allowing cannabis retail stores in their jurisdiction. Council passed a resolution telling the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario that they will “opt out”.

Process

Although the MRA acknowledges that this Council is new, Councillors should be aware that it is not acceptable to ask a delegate to approach the podium and ask them a series of questions that are not relevant to the application before them, as Councillor Jaglowitz did. Councillor Jaglowitz should have known process was not being followed from all the meetings he has attended through the years, including prior to being elected to council.

Furthermore, when asked to provide Council with a report on the December District Finance and Corporate Services Committee meeting, it was inappropriate for Councillor Jaglowitz to say “I pass”. As a District Councillor, it is the responsibility of Councillor Jaglowitz to provide his fellow councillors with monthly updates on what occurs at the District committee meetings he attends.

District - Monday, January 21st, 2019

Muskoka Conservancy

Scott Young, Executive Director of the Muskoka Conservancy, was before District Council to introduce himself and the Conservancy to the new Council. The Conservancy is primarily a land trust that works with private land owners, and sometimes municipalities, to assess their properties. This can occur when a property owner approaches the Conservancy or if the Conservancy identifies a property they feel should be protected and approaches the land owners. To date the Conservancy has 40 protected properties covering 2500 acres of land, 49,000 feet of waterfront and over 453 acres wetlands in their possession. The Conservancy is also involved in Community Conservation and runs “Little Sprout Eco Club” for children, Nature Quest Expert Guided Hikes, Land Stewardship programs, as well as tracking invasive species. The Conservancy is membership based and accepts support and donations. Mr. Young finished his presentation by asking Council to “say nice things about us, give us a call if you have questions and introduce us to your community”.

Special Committee of the Whole - Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Treasurer Shannon Johnson presented Version 1 of the 2019 Township of Muskoka Lakes budget to Committee. Ms. Johnson stated that the Township does not face challenges in the Operating Budget this year but there are significant infrastructure costs in coming years and therefore the Township must either increase taxes or reduce service levels. As in the past few years a 5% Capital levy has been added to the Capital budget to be transferred to discretionary reserves.

At the commencement of the meeting the levy was 5.12%, which equates to $1.61 of every $100,000.00 of property assessment -  2019 Budget - Draft 1 2019 Budget - Draft 1. The Committee reviewed and debated the Operational and Capital budget, as well as the 10-Year Capital Forecast, for close to six hours. With the removal and addition of items to the Operating Budget, the levy currently sits at 5.81%, which equates to $2.41 per $100,000.00 of property assessment. Removal of items from the Fire Department and Emergency Management in the Capital Budget has resulted in the draft Capital Budget being reduced to $4,268,028.00. Please note these budgets are still in draft form.

Do not forget that the public budget meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 5th, 2019 at 7 PM in the Council Chambers. This is your opportunity to voice your concerns about the budget.

Ed. Note The MRA congratulates staff on the budget, specifically Shannon for presenting a budget that in understandable to the average person.

Winterfest is being held in Port Carling
on February 1st to 3rd, 2019.
It is a wonderful weekend with events for all ages.
 
Did you know that there is a public skating trail
at Hanna Park in Port Carling?
 

Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

Ratepayers - Board Meeting
Aug 24, 2019 9:00am to 1:00pm
TML - Committe of Adjustment
Sep 9, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - General / Finance Committee
Sep 12, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Planning Committee
Sep 13, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
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