Township Watch - November 2018

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Committee of the Whole is a meeting where discussions take place that need to be approved at the Council meeting the following month. As there is a newly elected Council, this meeting was not held this month, so there would be no unfinished business for the incoming Council.

Council - Friday, November 16th, 2018

The Council meeting began with Mayor Furniss asking Council's indulgence as he made some opening remarks. Mayor Furniss congratulated Mayor Elect Harding on his new position, as well as returning Councillors Edwards, Hayes and Nishikawa on their re-election. Secondly, Mayor Furniss congratulated newly elected Councillors Glenn Zavitz (Ward A), Susan Mazan and Gord Roberts (Ward B) and Frank Jaglowitz, Barb Bridgeman and Peter Kelley (Ward C). Thirdly, thanks were given to Sandy Currie, Linda Barrick-Spearn and Terry Ledger for their service over the past four years, and Jean-Ann Baranik and Gault McTaggart for their service over two terms of Council. Lastly, Mayor Furniss thanked the staff, stating that the Township is blessed with professional employees who continue to provide increased level of service to the Township. Mayor Furniss specifically mentioned Clerk Cheryl Mortimer who is a wealth of information on Township Policy and Legislation. As well, CAO Steve McDonald who is indispensable and a very important connection between the staff and Council.

Planning Applications

You are probably aware, the MRA does not often comment on private planning applications. As such this report will be shorter than usual.

Camp Ramah

A representative was before Council to request that approval be granted for a site plan agreement to allow Camp Ramah to replace a craft building and garage with a new multi-use activity building, a new bunkhouse and an enlarged parking area. These requests had previously been approved by Council, who voted and approved the site-plan agreement.

Bill 36 - Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018

CAO Steve McDonald explained to Council that the report was on the agenda for information purposes only. A draft of the legislation was released earlier this month and Mr. McDonald wanted to bring some of the information to Council's attention.

Mr. McDonald explained that the key discussion points were:

  • Municipal Councils do not have authority to license the sale of cannabis, that is regulated through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO),
  • the Township has a one-time opportunity to “opt out”/prohibit retail cannabis stores in the Township of Muskoka Lakes, but must inform the AGCO by January 22nd, 2019,
  • the Township does have the ability to regulate production facilities in the Township, and
  • although cannabis use is permitted where smoking is permitted (including many outdoor public spaces), the Township has the ability to say where cannabis use is or is not permitted and can put on further restrictions than those imposed by the AGCO.

Following a brief discussion, Mr. McDonald informed Council that he hoped that the Township would receive public input on the topic in the coming month. The full report can be read here -1811 - Cannabis Statute.pdf Cannabis Statute.

Ed Note: If you feel strongly about cannabis use being regulated in the Township of Muskoka Lakes, one way or the other, the MRA urges you to contact your incoming Councillors. Or, take a moment and complete the attached survey published by the Township prior to the December 7th deadline - Township Cannabis Survey.

Authorization of Councillor Absence for Three Successive Months

Due to health issues beyond his control, Councillor Gault McTaggart missed the Council meetings in September, October and November. A resolution was brought forward to authorize his absence from these meetings, which passed in a recorded vote of 7 to 1.

Ed Note: Much to the MRA's surprise, Councillor Currie voted NAY to the resolution. The MRA believes that compassion alone for a fellow councillor should have resulted in a unanimous decision.

Councillor Harding Says Thank You to Mayor Furniss

Prior to a break being called in the meeting, Councillor Harding offered his thanks to Mayor Furniss for his eight years of service. Councillor Harding stated that being Mayor is a “tireless job” and that sitting at the head of the table takes “strength and courage” as people throw daggers at times. Councillor Harding further stated that “the community has a lot to thank Don Furniss for, with his four years as Mayor and four as a councillor”.

District Updates

The MRA thought our membership would be interested to hear that the Corporate and Emergency Services Committee at the District heard a presentation from a representative from GlobalFire, an organization who strive to assist underfunded emergency response/fire stations around the world. The committee passed a resolution to sell a surplus ambulance for $1.00 which will be deployed to the Guatemalan Volunteer Fire Department to transport patients from rural areas to the capital's hospital. Committee further showed interest in donating other surplus supplies and equipment and delegated that staff make all decisions under the value of $10,000.00.

Ed Note: The MRA congratulates the committee and District Council on their generosity in helping others.

Another piece of District information is, Mayor Furniss informed Council that during the October 2018 District Council meeting, planner Wayne Simpson, from Wayne Simpson & Associates spoke to District Council regarding the responsibility of municipalities acting as proxies for the Province to carry out the Planning Act. Municipalities are under strict obligations to follow the rules and regulations as set out in the Planning Act and cannot act arbitrarily.

Ed Note: The MRA hopes that the incoming Council will deal with planning applications according to the Planning Act and not constantly bring forward irrelevant information. Location of speed signs on the water, boat speeds, portions of applications that are not before Council getting mentioned jeopardizes approval of applications. By not following the Planning Act, as it is laid out by the Province of Ontario, our tax dollars are being spent to defend LPAT (OMB) appeals.

District of Muskoka Council Meeting - Monday, November 19th, 2018

Council Composition Review

Councillor Young from Lake of Bays informed Council that the committee had had an excellent last meeting with input from a retired clerk from Kawartha Lakes. As it was the final meeting of the Council with the newly elected Council commencing in December, four recommendations were brought forward.

  1. That the population not be determined by the voters list but by the second home study as it shows that there were 40,000 voters not on the voters list. Permanent population will be determined by the census, and seasonal population by the second home study.
  2. That the size of the District Council be reduced by 4 members to 18 or even by 10 members to 12. Committee was not comfortable putting a number on the actual number, so simply suggested that the numbers be reduced.
  3. That the next Council do not use standing committees but change to Committee of the Whole and General Council Structure. This decision was made as if the number of Council members were to be reduced there would not be enough members for standing committees.
  4. That the newly elected Council immediately cast a committee and begin deliberations to reduce the size of the District Council. Once guidelines have been put in place, the people of Muskoka be consulted on the change.

Following the recommendations Council had an in-depth discussion regarding the use of the second home study. Several Councillors voiced concerns with the second home study, including but not limited to:

  • obtaining population numbers was not the purpose of the study,
  • no controls were put on the study, and
  • the study was not done in a way that was statistically valid.

It was suggested that the recommendation included wording that was not necessary. Following a brief recess Council voted to amend the recommendation by removing the wording “the best estimate available, currently a variation of the second home study” and replacing it with “a statistically valid estimate be procured” to obtain seasonal population. Council voted and the recommendations carried.


The MRA would like to congratulate Fire Chief Richard Hayes and Deputy Fire
Chief Harry Baranik on their graduation from the University
of Guelph this past summer. Both received degrees in
Bachelor of Applied Arts: Justice and Public Safety.
The MRA believes it is extremely important that the Township
Fire Department continues with relevant education
so they can continue to keep us safe from harm's way.
The MRA wishes our American members a Happy Thanksgiving.

Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

Ratepayers - AGM 2019
Jul 20, 2019 10:00am to 12:00pm
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Aug 16, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
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