Township Watch - July 2018

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Camel Lake Subdivision

The subdivision on Camel Lake is an issue that has been at Committee several times. Following a public meeting at the District of Muskoka on June 21st, the item was before committee again for comments to be submitted to the District of Muskoka. Mr. Ashford a representative from the Camel Lake Community explained that they have concerns regarding water quality, environmental impacts and emergency services accessibility. It was further explained that the road into the six proposed lake front lots is an ATV trail with sharp turns and slopes, that passes near protected wetlands. Some members of the community had contacted the applicant, Mr. Evans, with a compromise of 3 lots off Camel Lake Road Extension and a reduction to two waterfront lots, along with approximately 50 acres then being donated to the Muskoka Conservancy. proposed compromise was rejected by the applicant.

A representative for the applicant expanded on six major concerns:

  • recreational carrying capacity: that the community was referring to does not exist in the Township's or District's Official Plans, there are five new proposed lots, not six as one currently exists and that the cottage association on Camel Lake has not met in 30 years.
  • environmental impacts of construction: the numbers being given regarding the trucks during construction is an assumption by the cottagers and was a number to alarm council.
  • emergency services: construction must meet all requirements of the fire code.
  • water quality: the increase in phosphorus will not be detectable.
  • Camel Lake Road safety: this is a public road.
  • Lake character classification: the lake was reclassified as a Category 2 lake and this application was submitted when policies in place said it could be developed.

Director of Planning, David Pink, explained that even if Camel Lake had remained as a Category 4 lake lot creation is not prohibited provided a water quality assessment is completed. There are no lake categories in the Official Plan that prohibit development. Committee then questioned what the lake association is currently doing about their water quality and if the existing cottages were causing deterioration of the lake quality.

A resolution was read and carried to submit comments to the District of Muskoka that the Township of Muskoka Lakes was opposed to the plan of subdivision being proposed on Camel Lake.

(Ed Note: It is important to note that even though the Township voted against the plan of subdivision, the ultimate governing body is the District of Muskoka.)

 Joint Policy Review for Minett

Scot Weeres, from the District of Muskoka, presented to committee a steering committee the terms of reference and selection criteria for the joint policy review for Minett -Minett Review The committee will be compromised of 13 members, including a chair that reports back to the Township and District Councils. Mr. Weeres emphasized that it is important to have a “balanced” and “skills based” committee composed of members from different backgrounds. Those wishing to sit on the committee will nominate themselves and provide their background and qualifications. This information will be used to analyse those individuals who put their names forward.

Mr. Weeres then reviewed:

  • key responsibilities: for council to appoint committee members and a chair, set performance levels and timelines to be followed, receive, review, discuss and approve recommendations and bring forward the best policies.
  • committee responsibilities: members must participate or they will be removed from the committee, receive and discuss the information and bring forward a recommendation
  • initial decision: is the committee size right? Should the chair be appointed by Council? The role of elected officials, and if they should be on the committee?
  • next steps: for council to receive the terms of reference, identify and appoint steering committee members, have an orientation for committee members and an initial informal meeting for the steering committee.

Committee members then voiced concerns and comments regarding:

  • that this was a Township matter but recommendations must also be approved by the District.
  • that other municipalities, through the District, will have the ability to turn down recommendations even if the Township is pleased with them.
  • will the meetings be held in Muskoka? Will they be open to the public?
  • will older information be available for the steering committee to consider?
  • that the steering committee be kept apolitical.
  • that the chair of the committee is someone who needs to maintain order so perhaps it should be a paid position to maintain independence.
  • that elected officials not on the steering committee, but be allowed to attend and listen.
  • that if members of Council were permitted to attend the steering committee meeting they would run into a problem with quorum.

In answer to these concerns, Mr Weeres confirmed that:

  • Township and District Planning staff will be integrated into the committee.
  • according to the draft of the steering committee before committee on July 12th elected officials were not included on the steering committee.

Members of the public made presentations voicing concerns and requesting that:

  • the terms of reference also include “zoning by-laws” for review.
  • elected officials not be on the steering committee.
  • timelines were tight, and it would be in everyone's best interest for this to be streamlined.
  • only the “chair” should speak to staff.
  • members should be nominated by seasonal and permanent residents living near Minett.
  • Council approve the terms of reference and amend if needed.
  • there needs to be a balance to promote development and protect the environment.
  • the role of the chair is to run the meeting and make sure all voices are heard.

Greg Knight from Ken Fowler Enterprises informed committee that they had not seen the changes being proposed but agreed with keeping the steering committee apolitical and having the chair report back to Council. KFE did feel that a representative from cottage development/rentals should be included on the committee.

One member of the public stated that he had made 16 changes to the draft document presented by Mr. Weeres, and that his changes were all reasonable. Mr. Weeres did believe that several of the changes made sense; he disagreed that the steering committee should elect the chair. Mr. Weeres felt that if the chair was appointed they could be removed if they were not doing their job, which is not the case if they were elected by the steering committee. Mr. Weeres also emphasized that this issue is bigger than just the Township of Muskoka Lakes and if the best qualified person happens to live outside of the Township they should be able to bring their skill set to the steering committee.

Following this discussion, the steering committee terms of reference and selection criteria was deferred to the following day, so changes could be made to the document. (See below)

2017 Audited Financial Statements

Nicole White from BDO Dunwoody informed the committee that the 2017 audit was “a clean audit”. That the Township's tangible capital assets are growing and revenue is almost the same from 2016 to 2017. Ms. White stated that they were prepared to sign a clean audit opinion -2017 Financial Statements.

Fence By-Law

As reported in the June Township Watch - Township Watch - June 2018 - a fence by-law was brought forward by staff. This by-law was before committee again this month due to opposition against it in June. Committee discussed the fact that there had been one complaint in 15 years and as the Township currently has a fence committee the by-law was not required. Committee apologized to staff for the work it took to prepare the by-law. A resolution was read to accept the fence by-law and was defeated.

Watt Public School Community Safety Zone

Director of Public Works, Roger Young, informed committee that a request had been brought forward for signage on Fish Hatchery Road and Highway 141. The resolution was two-fold, firstly to establish and place signage for a community safety zone on Fish Hatchery Road and to contact the Ministry of Transportation Ontario to have the same established on Highway 141. The resolution to the MTO would include the use of an amber flashing light set for school hours but not in use on the weekends. The resolution was read and carried.

2018 Quarterly Financial Report

Treasurer Shannon Johnson informed the committee that the 2018 budget was tracking well with 52.8% of the budget left for the second half of 2018. The full breakdown of operating net expenditures by department, a summary of the operating budget expenditures and a summary of capital expenditures by department can be found here -Financial Report - 2Q18This item was on the agenda for information purposes and no resolution was read.

Council - Friday, July 13th, 2018

Short Term Accommodation Uses

This item has been on several agendas, reported in the Township Watch several times over the past year and passed at Committee of the Whole last month. A private citizen came to Council to review their concerns regarding a property in the Township that is being rented out on short term bases through AirBnB. According to the presenter numerous complaints have been filed with the OPP but no solution has been found for the ongoing inappropriate behaviour of renters. The presenter and private citizens asked the Township to take action on the problem.

Director of Planning, David Pink, reviewed for Council that this issue has been before them several times, legal opinions have been obtained, and a steering committee was established where the OPP were invited to make presentations. After four meetings and much discussion, the steering committee decided against a licensing by-law but opted to review current Township by-laws, perhaps draft new by-laws and enforce the by-laws. Some councillors were not pleased with this approach as residents have had to deal with unruly renters for several years now. It was pointed out that although there have been several complaints no charges have been laid as either the people complaining would not “step up” or it was not a chargeable offence. With the new Renters Code of Conduct fines will be levied against not only the troublesome renter but the property owner as well. Mr. Pink explained that the Township must be consistent with its by-laws across the Township and not single one property out. It was further explained that any property that is currently been used as such would be grandfathered if a by-law was established.

Those councillors who sat on the steering committee explained that the Township needs to improve their by-laws. It was discussed that one of the problems is that the Township By-Law Officer works Monday to Friday so is not available on weekends when many of the complaints are raised. When asked if Council could pass a Rental By-Law, Mr. Pink responded the Council is bound by the Province and Municipal Act and cannot pass a by-law to regulate behaviour. It was suggested that the Township regulate short term rentals in communities such as Bala and Port Carling, which Mr. Pink explained would require an amendment to the Official Plan and Comprehensive Zoning By-Law. It would most likely be challenged at the OMB and would leave properties that currently are for rent legal non-conforming.

A resolution -Short Term Accom Short Term Accomodation Resolution - to accept the recommendations of the steering committee was read and carried unanimously.

Joint Policy Review for Minett

As reported above, the steering committee terms of reference and selection criteria for the joint policy review for Minett was deferred to Council for changes and further discussion. Scot Weeres made the recommended changes from Thursday's meeting and Director of Planning, David Pink, also made a few changes. A private citizen reviewed the changes and submitted his further comments to Council in an email. Although Mr. Weeres agreed some of the suggested changes should be made he did have concerns with others. Mr. Weeres stated it is important to watch for applicants with certain skills whether they reside in the Township of Muskoka Lakes or another municipality.

Council agreed to accept the suggested changes that Mr. Weeres thought were acceptable, but discussed the ones that Mr. Weeres had concerns over. One of the suggested changes was to add the “zoning by-laws” to the review which Mr. Weeres explained was a bigger scope than he had been told about and that the committee needs “to wrestle policies to the ground” before adding zoning by-laws as it will just confuse matters. Mayor Furniss reminded that in January Council requested a joint review of the Official Plan with the District and in April Council requested a joint specific Official Plan policy but there had been no mention of the zoning by-laws. It was further explained that the Township is responsible for its by-laws not the District and are a result of the Official Plan. Wording had also been changed/added for who should be members of the steering committee. Mr. Weeres explained that the changes that were made would make it more difficult to form a balanced committee as there are different kinds of scientist, so naming specific ones would not be helpful, and the more specific the list becomes the fewer degrees of freedom there are to form a balanced committee. Mr. Weeres voiced concerns that an unbalanced committee would come with suspicion and therefore there is a need for transparency and clarity.

The resolution -  Minett Steering Committee Minett Steering Committee Resolution - regarding the terms of reference was read and passed with none opposed.

No Parking By-Law

In an attempt to address some of the concerns being raised regarding a short-term rental on Currie Street in Bala a no parking by-law was passed by Council. This was discussed at the Committee of the Whole meeting on July 12th and brought directly to Council. It was decided that one side of Currie Street would be posted as a No Parking Zone, while the other side would be a No Overnight Parking.

The resolution was read and carried.

By-Law to Appoint Alternate Member to District Council

With changes to the Municipal Act, Council was given the opportunity to appoint an alternate member for District Council. Mayor Furniss requested that the alternate be Deputy Mayor Baranik, who would attend the District Council meetings if a district councillor or the Mayor is unable to attend, for the remainder of the term of Council. The resolution was read and carried.

Thank you to all who attended our AGM.
Your ongoing support allows the MRA to continue
to do the work that we do.
The MRA is holding an All Candidates Meeting
on Saturday, September 29th, 2018
at the Port Carling Community Centre at 10 AM.

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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