The following index should help you in locating an article of particular interest
Township Council received letters from the Muskoka Lakes Association, Friends of Muskoka and the Muskoka Ratepayers regarding the new Committee structure that was passed in March 2019 and put in place in July 2019. When the new system began it was to be reviewed at six months including accepting public input. All three organizations saw flaws in the new system and voiced concerns including:
Although no staff report was provided, Councillors provided feedback to the Clerk on their views of how the new Committee structure was working ranging from:
Mayor Harding, who had initiated the change in Committee structure, pointed out that even if a Councillor did not have a vote they had influence with their input into conversations and reminded everyone that the final vote was at the Council table where all Councillors did have a vote. Although Mayor Harding acknowledged he will respect the “will of Council” he emphasized that the new system was put in place to deliver a better and more efficient level of service to the taxpayers as he feels that under the old system finance and roads issues are “pushed aside at the end of long days” and were not being dealt with.
Following a brief break, Mayor Harding gave all Councillor’s one last chance to speak. There was a consensus of Council to return to a two-day meeting schedule.
Township Clerk, Cheryl Mortimer will return in January or February with a staff report on the meeting structure and schedule. If Council votes to amend the Committee structure, an amendment to the Township Procedural By-Law will be brought to the following Council meeting to be voted on.
This item was on the agenda for feedback, and no resolution was read.
Ed Note: The Ratepayers believe that Mayor Harding’s comment to a delegate that they “do not have a vote” following a presentation was extremely inappropriate but acknowledge that he did apologize for what he said following a break in the meeting.
This item returned to Council for further discussion following the November 2019 Council meeting - Township Watch - November 2019. Council heard concerns/comments from the public including:
This item was not discussed by Council following the presentation but was moved into Closed Session. When Council returned to Open Session the following resolution was read and carried.
"Whereas the Township of Muskoka Lakes and the District of Muskoka initiated a joint review of the site specific Official Plan policies applicable to the Resort Village of Minett;
And Whereas Council wishes to deliberate the Interim, and any future recommendations, of the Minett Joint Policy Review Steering Committee in an open and inclusive process with all affected stakeholders and the broader community;
Now Therefore be it resolved that a special Committee of the Whole meeting be scheduled in January 2020 in order to review the October 11th, 2019 Interim Recommendations of the Minett Joint Review Steering Committee, and any additions thereto, with all interested stakeholders with the goal of advancing mutually agreed upon draft Official Plan policies for further public consultation."
Ed Note: The date of the Special Committee of the Whole meeting will be posted on the Township website once it is determined.
Pat Young, Board Chair of the Walker’s Point Community Library gave Committee their annual update. The community library has been in operation for nine years and has signed up 521 library card holders. The library offers a collection of new books, audio books and are continually adding to their compliment of books. Communication is a very important part of the community library. They do so through emails, their website, hard copies of information are posted for people to read and at times are an information centre for people looking for directions. The library runs programs and events such as potluck suppers and summer children programs. In closing, Ms. Young thanked the Township for their continued support by matching funds to those donated to the community library.
This presentation was for information and no resolution was read.
Tim Sopkowe from the Public Works Department explained to Committee that seven new stop signs were required in the Township but could not be erected until the Traffic Regulation By-Law was amended. These new locations were either requested by citizens or “flagged” by staff. A resolution was read and carried to allow stop signs to be erected at:
Communications and Economic Development Specialist, Corey Moore provide Committee with an overview of the Township’s grants program. Council allocates funding to community groups and organizations through community grants, events and festival grants and the operating grants stream. Examples of the operating grants stream are the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce and the Muskoka Lakes Museum. In 2019, $20,000.00 was allocated through the budget to community grants and events and festivals grants. The 2020 grants program is to be launched next week with a deadline for applications to be submitted by February 14th, 2020.
Committee questioned if $20,000.00 was adequate or if the amount should be raised to $25,000.00. There was a discussion regarding waiving fees on Community Centres as the Community Centres are there for the use of the public. CAO Hammond explained that when the Township waives a fee the Township’s “bottom line” was affected. Committee discussed separating operating grants and community/festival and events grants. It was decided that the grants policy would be reviewed by the Economic Development and Grants committee before returning to the General/Finance Committee for further discussion.
No resolution was read.
Kimberley Woodcock from Habitat Ontario Gateway North gave a presentation to Committee on how they provide “decent and safe affordable housing”. For a family to qualify for a habitat home they must need housing, be interviewed twice and a determination made that they can afford the monthly mortgage or rent payments. Once selected the family must commit to 500 hours of community service and engage in building their own home. The entire presentation can be viewed here - Habitat for Humanity
Kimberley's presentation to Committee was specifically regarding the build of a semi-detached rental unit in Bala. Her request to the Township to consider:
The Planning Committee discussed the proposal stating that:
This presentation was to see if the Township had any interest in the proposed project and no resolution was read.
This application was originally heard and deferred in July 2019 - Township Watch - July 2019 - and returned to the Planning Committee under Unfinished Business to provide input to the District of Muskoka regarding the proposed plan of subdivision. The applicant reduced the number of proposed lots from 14 to 10 and provided a revised layout. Several letters of objection were received again on this proposed development. The Planning Committee heard presentations from those in support of the development outlining:
Those in opposition to the application raised the following concerns:
Following these presentation Planning Committee members, and non-voting Council members held an in-depth discussion regarding:
Chair Bridgeman asked Committee to provide input as to whether they would like the following studies completed:
Chair Bridgeman confirmed that Committee wished these studies completed before the Committee provided input to the District of Muskoka. This item was then deferred.
Director of Planning, David Pink explained to the Planning Committee that a steering committee and working committee have been established regarding the Official Plan review. Interest has been shown from the Planning Committee to be involved in the process and Mr. Pink suggested that a joint meeting/workshop be held with the Planning Committee and the working Committee in March 2020. Mr. Pink informed the Planning Committee that decisions will be made at the workshop before planning staff “put pen to paper”. Councillor Roberts, Chair of the Steering Committee, encouraged his fellow Councillors to review in depth the discussion papers so that they will fully understand the work that has taken place to date.
As not all Councillors sit on all Committees a concern was raised about members of the Finance/General Committee not being included in the discussion and having a vote. It was suggested that a Special Committee of the Whole be called so that Councillors who are not members of the Planning Committee would be there and could provide input.
This item was for information purposes and not resolution was read.
Director of Planning, David Pink explained to Committee that Councillor Nishikawa had requested that this item be put on the agenda for discussion. There has been an increase in rafts, trampolines etc. on the lakes in Muskoka. Councillor Nishikawa informed Committee that this past summer she had visited two properties where “inflatables” were in the water, and at one property over the projected property lines into the lake. Councillor Nishikawa hoped that the Township could do something to regulate how and where these devices are being used. Mr. Pink stated that he would be happy to review the use of “inflatables” on the lakes and obtain a legal opinion, but he did not believe there was anything the Township could do. These “inflatables” would follow the same regulations as watercraft and are regulated by Transport Canada. Mayor Harding stated that “just like floating docks these “inflatables” are illegal unless a permit is obtained as the lakebed is governed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry”.
Following a brief discussion, it was decided that the Township would start out by adding the use of “inflatables” to the Code of Conduct, asking neighbours to be respectful of each others’ areas.
The budget meeting schedule that we reported in the November 2019 Township Watch has been cancelled.Once the new schedule is determined we will let you know.
The Board of Directors of the Muskoka Ratepayers wish everyone a very festive and safe holiday season.
Ratepayers - Board Meeting
Jan 23, 2020 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Ratepayers - Planning Session
Jan 24, 2020 10:00am to 4:00pm