Township Watch - February 2018

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, February 15, 2018

Camel Lake Subdivision

A plan of subdivision for a 40-hectare parcel of land on Camel Lake was submitted to the District of Muskoka who originally requested Township comments in September 2015. Following an extensive discussion, committee deferred the application until the submitted reports could be peer reviewed. The original application was for six waterfront lots and four rural lots, but has been resubmitted with a reduction in rural lots to three  - Camel Lake Camel Lake. Township planner, Rian Allen, informed the committee that the District of Muskoka had requested Township comments, and emphasized that committee was commenting and not approving anything.

Committee heard concerns from two property owners on Camel Lake that included:

  • lake recreational caring capacity
  • the impact six more cottages will have on the lake
  • water quality
  • the private road which is not navigable by emergency services
  • the impact on the road and lake during construction of new cottages, and
  • that the residents on the lake were taken by surprise by the meeting as they thought the proposal was not moving forward

Although committee members did voice concerns about Camel Lake's “lake caring capacity”, they were reminded by Director of Planning, David Pink, that the application must be dealt with according to current policies in place. Committee members also requested that the rural lots be reduced again to one new lot.

The resolution to provide comments to the District was read and defeated by Committee. A resolution was added to the Council agenda the following day, to comment to the District that the Township had concerns regarding social and caring capacity on Camel Lake. This resolution was carried unanimously.

Rosseau Development - 2253100 Ontario Inc.

A site plan agreement was submitted by Rosseau Developments for their plans to develop 1050 Paignton House Road on a point of land known as Fish Rock -Rosseau Development Rosseau Development.  The site plan showed nine two and three storey buildings with a total of 40 units. Representatives for Rosseau Developments explained that:

  • the necessary zoning approvals are currently in place
  • all servicing pipes are already in the ground
  • the expansion is needed as the hotel is turning away business
  • there has been a fulsome public consultation process
  • they have a right to build on the footprint of the old structures, and
  • the development complies with the comprehensive zoning by-law

Seven members of the public voiced concerns including, but not limited to:

  • the sewage disposal system/plant
  • that a public information meeting be held
  • water quality in Wallace Bay
  • the storm-water management review was 12 years ago and should be fully updated
  • limiting docks in Wallace Bay
  • setbacks from the shoreline provides little space to re-vegetate the shoreline
  • best management practices are not being implemented
  • lowering development capacity, and
  • deferring the application

Director of Planning, David Pink, confirmed that the front yard and one side yard setbacks are reduced as previous foundations can be rebuilt on as a right, and that the remainder of the site plan does comply with the zoning by-law as amended. Mr. Pink further confirmed that staff had recommended a deferral to address the sewage system. Committee held a discussion which was mostly focused on the sewage plant and deferred the site plan until the servicing issues could be reviewed.

Bill 139 - Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act 2017

Bill 139 was given Royal Assent in December 2017. Along with affecting other Acts, it repeals the Ontario Municipal Board Act (OMB) and makes some fundamental changes to the appeal process in Ontario. The OMB will now be known as the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) and a written and/or oral participant in an application, no longer gives you appeal rights. Those wishing to appeal a municipally approved Official Plan, an Official Plan Amendment (OPA), a Zoning By-Law or a Zoning By-Law Amendment (ZBA) must demonstrate that the appeal meets the “new test” of being “inconsistent with a provincial policy statement, fails to conform with or conflicts with a provincial plan, or fails to conform with applicable official plan”. To appeal a private OPA or ZBA, an appellant will be required to demonstrate “how the existing policies/provisions do not satisfy the above 'new test' and how the proposed policies/provisions do satisfy the 'new test'”. This requirement will be known as the “joint test”. It is anticipated that these new tests will limit the number of appeals to the LPAT and put more control in Council's hands. This item was on the agenda for information purposes only, and no resolution was read. The full report can be found here -Building Community Building Community.

Integrity Commissioner Yearly Report

The Township's Integrity Commissioner, Robert Swayze, reported that in 2017 one complaint was received, which he dismissed. As the complaint was deemed to be frivolous and vexatious, the application fee was not refunded. A resolution to accept the report was read and carried.

Council - Friday, February 16, 2018

2018 Township Budget

Township Treasurer, Shannon Johnson, introduced the 2018 budget to Council explaining that the combined operating and capital budget to budget levy was 10.11% which equated to $7.16 per $100,000.00 of assessed property value. Councillors, who said they would not support the budget, voiced concerns stating that:

  • a 10% tax increase was irresponsible
  • a decision should be made to close the Torrance and Glen Orchard fire stations, as well as the Bala arena
  • it was disappointing that the video webcasting had been removed from the budget
  • the fire department budget was moving in the wrong direction, and
  • staffing numbers are too high

Other councillors, who supported the budget, stated:

  • that past councils had “dipped into reserves” and it was now time to “pay the piper”
  • that the results of service level review this past summer showed that 76% of respondents felt the tax levels were fair or good
  • Council's "number one responsibility" was the safety and welfare of the residents of the Township of Muskoka Lakes
  • amenities are needed for a good quality of life
  • that if a fire hall is closed some people's insurance will go up
  • that Council was putting money back into the reserves, and
  • that the Treasurer has done a good job providing Council with a 10-year capital forecast

In a recorded vote Councillors Harding, Hayes, Ledger and Nishikawa voted against the 2018 budget, excluding the Fire Department's line item for operating expenses and general wages and benefits, while Councillors Baranik, Barrick-Spearn, Edwards and McTaggart, and Mayor Furniss supported the budget. The overall budget carried at a vote of 5 to 4.

Councillor Baranik then recused herself due to a conflict of interest and Council proceeded to vote on the Fire Department's budget for operating expenses and general wages and benefits. In a recorded vote Councillor Harding, Hayes, Ledger and Nishikawa voted against this portion of the budget resulting in a tie vote which defeated that section of the budget. This tied vote left the Township of Muskoka Lakes Fire Department without an operating budget which included wage increases that all other departments had been granted in the budget. When questioned how those who voted against it would like the Fire Department to operate they responded “status quo”, which was not possible as the Fire Department did not have an operating budget. After much discussion it was decided to suspend the rules of procedure and a separate resolution was put forth which gave the Fire Department the equivalent of their 2017 budget for operating expenses and general wages and benefits, plus a 1.5% increase. This resolution carried.

With the changes to the Fire Department's operating budget and including the 5% capital levy for reserves, the final Township budget for 2018 is:

  • budget to budget levy 9.83%
  • tax rate implication 6.05%
  • increase per $100,000.00 of property assessment $6.85

(Ed. Note - The MRA is disappointed that this occurred as Councillors had already asked the Fire Department, which is an essential service, to make reductions to their portion of the budget. Furthermore, if the Fire Department does not have enough money in their budget for 2018 expenses, these costs will need to be covered by withdrawing monies from reserves...which is unfortunate, as the Township has been working to rebuild the reserves.)

The Final 2018 Budget as approved on February 16 can be found here -TML Budget - Final TML Budget - Final

For some comments from the Township, see - TML - Budget Highlights

Johnston's Cranberry Marsh

Catherine Oosterbaan from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs was at Council to present Johnston's Cranberry Marsh with the Premiers Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. Catherine stated that the Cranberry Marsh was being recognized for its leadership in the community as they continue to develop new products and bring people to the area and community. This is the fourth time that Johnston's Cranberry Marsh has received this award. Mayor Furniss congratulated the Cranberry Marsh on their year-round sustainable business, from the cranberry bogs, winery, blueberry hill to the skating trails in the winter.

1803 - Cranberry Marsh Award.JPG

(Ed. Note - The MRA congratulates the Cranberry Marsh on their award)

Xplornet Communications

This application, for a lattice tri-pole telecommunication tower at Walker's Point, was originally heard by Committee of the Whole in September 2017. Since the original application the tower has been relocated on the subject property at 1189 Breezy Point Road and lowered to a height of 40 meters. The applicant contacted the required neighbours within 1 km of the tower and held a public meeting, which no one attended. As all of the Township's requests were fulfilled, Council voted unanimously to provide a letter of recommendation to Xplornet and forward a copy to Industry Canada.


The MRA does not feel it is appropriate during public delegations to threaten committee members with comments regarding the upcoming municipal election. Committee and Council must deal with applications that are before them under guidelines set out in the Planning and Municipal Acts. They do not have any control over timing of applications.


Congratulations to the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department

for finding a father and 6-year-old son,

who had gone through the ice while snowmobiling on Lake Muskoka.

They were found seeking shelter in a boathouse.


Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

TML - Committee of the Whole
Apr 11, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Council
Apr 12, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
MRA - Board Meeting
Apr 27, 2019 9:00am to 1:00pm
MRA - AGM 2019
Jul 20, 2019 10:00am to 12:00pm
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