Township Watch - March 2020


On Monday, March 23rd, 2020 the Muskoka Ratepayers circulated a Keeping You Informed with a newsletter by Barb Bridgeman. We acknowledge that Barb's name was inadvertently spelled incorrectly.‎ We apologize for this and have apologized personally to Barb.

Special Notice

During these extremely unusual times, the Muskoka Ratepayers want to inform you that even though the District of Muskoka and Township of Muskoka Lakes offices are closed, as of now, staff are still available to help you via telephone and emails at both offices. More details at the end of this newsletter.

The Board of the Muskoka Ratepayers continue to work on your behalf as well, as we are able to.

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

General/Finance Committee - Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

Safe Quiet Lakes Presentation

Colleen Kennedy, a Director from Safe Quiet Lakes, presented to Committee a pilot project the organization is undertaking regarding boat wakes and speed on the Indian River and Mirror Lake. Although the original 9 km/hr within 30 metres of shore was posted in the early 1970’s to ensure people were safer in and on the water, to reduce wake damage and minimize noise, noisy and fast boats continue to be a key concern 40 years later. A survey circulated by the organization in the fall of 2019 showed that property owners had concerns regarding safety or distracted boaters, boat safety knowledge and a need for more buoys and signage.

Transport Canada sets the speeds on our waterways, the OPP enforce the speed, while the Township is responsible for posting and maintaining speed limit signage. Safe Quiet Lakes asked the Township for their support in:

  • erecting and replacing the 9 km/hr signs with a “heavy concentration in the pilot area”,
  • working with the organization on “no wake” signage to be placed on private property,
  • supporting “no wake” buoys and radar equipment, and
  • helping with outreach for a May launch of the project via social media, regular media and education outreach at local establishments during the summer.

Committee then discussed Safe Quiet Lakes request and agreed that perhaps a “kinder gentler” approach is not working, and a more forceful approach might be better.

Committee agreed to recommend to Council that the Township produce 25 speed limit signs in the Township’s print shop for Safe Quiet Lakes to distribute and take part in social media outreach for the project. The signs will be generic and will not display the Township’s logo. A resolution was read and carried.

Waiving of Community Centre Fees

Following a presentation by the Peninsula Lions Club last month requesting a full waiver of rental fees for their annual garage sale in July and Thanksgiving dinner in October, staff returned to Committee with a report on the waiving of community centre rental fees. Director of Public Works, Ken Becking, explained that staff had reviewed practices and policies that were put in place as recently as July 2018. These policies allow for the waiver of 50% of the fees for the events, such as the one the Lions were planning. Mr. Becking further explained that the 12 community centres in the Township cost approximately half a million dollars to run and the Township already subsidizes them by waiving $173,000.00 in fees yearly. The Lions were requesting the waiver of the other 50% which was $210.00 for the July event and $270.00 for the October dinner.

Committee held a discussion on whether to waive the fees for the Lions events, raising the following concerns:

  • that the policy is not applied consistently,
  • does the current policy need to be reviewed?
  • that substantial work went into the current policy and it works well,
  • that the Township does not even recoup 10% of the cost of maintaining the facilities,
  • that only four requests had been received in the last 12 months to fully waive rental fees,
  • the events contribute back to the community,
  • that the Township puts up roadblocks to community organizations that are raising money for the community,
  • that the Township is not a business but provides a service, and
  • that if fees are not waived at times the Township will be the biggest beneficiary of fund-raising events.

CAO Hammond stated that the policies in place are working as there is not a “constant stream” of waiver requests being received and as such, the “one offs” should be dealt with individually. A resolution to waive the rental fees for the Lions events at the Peninsula Community Centre was read and carried.

Ed Note: The Muskoka Ratepayers feel it is unfortunate that this item even had to be discussed. The Lions are a community group who return all monies they earn directly back into the community to help those in need.

Council - Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)

Anne Haines from MPAC was at Council to provide members with an “assessment refresher”. Ms. Haines explained that property values are reassessed by the Province of Ontario every four years. The review is legislated, and changes will not take effect until 2021 for four years. Notices will be mailed to residential property owners on May 4th, with a deadline of September 1st, 2020 to request for reconsideration for residential properties.

Assessments are based on five key factors:

  • age of the building and if any renovations have taken place,
  • quality of the construction,
  • living area/square footage,
  • the location of the property, and
  • the lot dimension, specifically the amount of waterfront one owns if located on a water body.

Ms. Haines emphasized that there is an adjustment between mainland properties and water access properties.

The full MPAC presentation can be seen here - MPAC MPAC, or if you have questions/concerns you can access their website at and register with AboutMyProperty to see full details of your property.

The presentation was for information and no resolution was read.

Township Council/Committee Structure

As reported in the February Township Watch - Township Watch - February 2020- this item was coming to Council to be ratified. It was suggested that perhaps the Council meeting could be moved to 9 AM and the General/Finance Committee meeting be held in the afternoon. There was a concern that if the Council meeting was in the morning and ran late, the public might be kept waiting. Therefore, the suggested change was not made. Council was informed that agenda items “District Municipality of Muskoka Updates” and “Community Events Update” would be transitioned to the General/Finance Committee meeting.

Resolutions were read and carried to accept the meeting schedule as laid out in the February Township Watch and to amend the "standing committees" to include all members of Council.

Community Safety and Policing Act

Mayor Harding, Councillor Jaglowitz and Acting CAO Ken Becking attended the meeting in Orillia on behalf of the Township of Muskoka Lakes. The purpose of the meeting was to obtain input from municipalities on the establishment of OPP Detachment Boards. Mayor Harding emphasized that it was clearly stated at the meeting that the Detachment Boards would not affect how OPP billing is done and changes will not be forth coming.

A full staff report by Acting CAO Becking and the regional round-table presentation of Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019: Ontario Provincial Police Regulatory Requirements can be read here - OPP OPP Regulatory Requirements.

Very little discussion was held, and no resolution was read as this item was on the agenda for information only.

Pre-Freshet Meeting

A pre-freshet meeting was held with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) on March 3rd, 2020. A staff report was prepared by Acting CAO Ken Becking -  Pre-Freshet Pre-Freshet Report - for Councils review. Mayor Harding explained that he and Mr. Becking had attended the meeting and that the MNRF “don’t know whether we are going to flood or not” and that the MNRF “are not going to put a stake in the ground in any way”.

No other discussion took place and no resolution was read as the item was on the agenda for information purposes only.

Planning Committee - Thursday, March 12th, 2020

Sports Courts & Recreational Areas in the Waterfront

As reported in February Township Watch - Township Watch - February 2020 - a draft by-law was presented to Council last month. Council had concerns with some of the wording and requested that the item be returned to the Planning Committee. Staff returned this month with a further draft of the by-law and asked Committee to provide direction on the definition of “sports courts and recreational areas”. A recommendation was received by staff to include the word “permeable” in the by-law, as well as the word “non-permeable”.

Staff emphasized again that this by-law is not being written to stop basketball from being played in the driveway or to prohibit a game of “catch” out on the lawn but to restrict a structure or area of land that is “purpose-built”, formally installed and permanent.

Committee held a discussion on the draft by-law voicing the following concerns:

  • that this was getting complicated,
  • the original request had been to restrict tennis courts to a setback of 200 feet,
  • would the by-law include a 15 by 15-foot pad for someone to shoot basketballs on or “fire hockey pucks”,
  • that horseshoe pits should not be restricted, and
  • this was using a “sledgehammer to put a tack in”.

Some members of Committee felt that they were trying to “fine tune” the by-law too much, and if someone wanted to install a sports court that was restricted by the by-law they could apply for a minor variance or a zoning by-law amendment. Director of Planning, David Pink cautioned Committee that Council had asked that the by-law include “non-permeable” areas and the by-law would be returning to Council without doing what they asked for.

Committee agreed with the outside request to add “permeable” surfaces to the by-law and at the advice of Mr. Pink excluded the wording “permeable and non-permeable” from the draft by-law. The resolution to accept the draft by-law was read and carried.

Ed Note: It is important to keep in mind that any sports court or recreational area that would require the removal of trees within 50 feet of the waters edge is prohibited by the tree preservation by-law.

District of Muskoka

All District Council and Committee meetings were cancelled this month due to precautions relating to the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus).

Township of Muskoka Lakes Budget Schedule

Please be advised that at the time of this publication the Township budget meetings have been rescheduled due to COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus). Please check the Township website for new dates and times.

Municipal Office Closed

Although, Township staff continue to work to serve the public, as of 12 PM on March 17th, 2020 the Township of Muskoka Lakes offices are closed to the public. Please click here to read the Township press release - Press Release

Did you know that Mayor Harding gives monthly updates
on relevant /important information via social media?
They can be found at then click “webcasting”.
The board of the Muskoka Ratepayers sincerely hopes
that everyone is staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.



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