Township Watch - September 2018

Committee of the Whole (COW) - September 13th, 2018

Ferndale Fun

A site plan application was before COW for a 3200 square foot staff housing building with 5820 gross floor area. The two-storey structure with a walk out basement will be made up of nine bedrooms with bathrooms, lounge, kitchen, laundry, utilities and extra bathrooms. Committee heard concerns from a neighbour regarding shared maintenance of the common lane-way off Ferndale Road. This application was carried and ratified at Council on September 14th, 2018.

2540458 Ontario Inc

A second site plan was before committee to approve an 8934 square foot plaza building at 156 Medora Street in Port Carling. The plaza will be an “L” shape with four separate entrances with loading areas located behind the building. The District of Muskoka provided comments on servicing and an entrance permit and asked that the application be deferred. The applicant requested that the committee grant the site plan on the condition that they obtain the necessary approvals from the District. It was requested that site plan approval be ratified at Council the following day. Committee discussed how the applicant has a proven track record working with the Township and the District and that this project demonstrates economic development. The site plan was approved and ratified at Council on September 14th, 2018.

Highway 169 Speed Reduction Resolution

The Bass Lake Association approached the District to request a reduction in speed on Highway 169 and were informed that they needed to approach the Township for support first. The association requested that the Township support their request for a reduced speed zone from Bass Lake Road to Ovinbird Golf Course along Highway 169. Director of Public Works, Roger Young, explained to the committee that he agreed that there were many challenges along that stretch of roadway, including a boat launch which users must stop on the highway to access. It was suggested that perhaps a “community safety zone” could be put in place where fines are doubled instead of reducing the posted speed limit and that the roadway be expanded in proximity of the boat launch. Committee agreed to support the resolution for the District to complete an analysis of the road, the resolution carried.

Clear Lake Brewery & The Muskoka Shield

Director of Public Works, Roger Young, informed the committee that Clear Lake Brewery wished to partner with the Muskoka Shield to sell beer at the Shield hockey games. Beer will be sold in a controlled area where food will be served. It was explained that the brewery would be mobile and no product would be stored on site. Committee discussed concerns ranging from fights can break out at hockey games without alcohol being involved, who will supply security, who will pay the extra rental cost as there is a difference when alcohol is served on Township properties. It was decided to allow a one year “test period” with Clear Lake Brewery taking care of additional concerns. The resolution was read and carried.

Speed Limit on Peninsula Road

CAO, Steve McDonald, reminded committee that one year ago residents on Peninsula Road requested a speed limit reduction from Gregory Road to Elgin House Road. At the time it was decided to contact the OPP regarding speed limit enforcement along the requested stretch of Peninsula Road. A speed limit analysis was completed this past summer which showed that when the speed limit is posted at 70 km/hour that average travelled speed was 77 km/hours. It was determined by the OPP that this area does not justify a dedicated enforcement zone. When asked what the problem in the area was, Mr. McDonald explained that the location of some of the driveways are hard to exit with their line of sight. Committee discussed that:

  • 50 km/hr for the entire length is excessive
  • the rehabilitation of Peninsula Road made it easier for people to speed
  • perhaps a flashing speed sign could be installed before the “S” bend to let drivers know what speed they are travelling at
  • a traffic calming zone could be installed, or
  • the placement of rumble strips might be helpful but would increase noise in the area.

It was decided that the Township would suggest to the District that a flashing sign indicating travelling speed, a community safety zone and rumble strips be used as traffic calming measures prior to reducing the speed limit. The staff report and OPP analysis can be found here -Peninsula Road Speed Peninsula Road Speed.

2019 Budget Guidelines

Treasurer, Shannon Johnson, explained that she would like to start the 2019 Township budget using historical data and current trend information. The operating budget would be based on current levels of service, a CPI forecast of 2% and with a 5% capital levy to help rebuild discretionary reserves. The suggested schedule would be as follows:

  • September/October, department development of 2019 requirements
  • November, consolidated Treasurer review
  • December, finance committee review
  • January, budget review at COW as well as a Special COW to review the budget
  • February, adoption of the budget by Council

There was some concern that the incoming council might want different budget requirements than the current council. CAO McDonald stated that from staff perspective they would be happy not to have to use a finance committee this year and bring the budget right to Council in 2019. Treasurer Johnson agreed that the extra time could be used to educate the new Council and perhaps for a citizen finance review committee the following year. The resolution to begin the 2019 budget was carried without the inclusion of a citizen finance committee.

Ed Note: The MRA understands that there will be a large learning curve for the new Council regarding the municipal budget, and that perhaps this year, time is better spent educating Councillors on the budget process. It is our hope that the citizen finance review committee will be re-established next year as obtaining citizen input is extremely important in the budgetary process.

2017 Reserves

Treasurer Shannon Johnson, asked committee to recommend to Council to accept her report on 2017 reserve transactions. The reserve balance of $8,949,498.00 at the end of 2016 increased to $10,595,437.00 at the end of 2017. The increase in reserves was attributed to a net increase in building permits, fewer capital transactions, the 5% capital levy and $250,000.00 put into roads reserves. The projected 2018 end of year reserve balance is $9,915,243.00. Ms Johnson stated that she would like to continue with the 5% capital levy which is replenishing discretionary reserves. The full report can be found here - Township Reserves Township Reserves.


Ed Note: The MRA applauds the Township for their efforts to replenish the reserves.

Council - Friday, September 14th, 2018

Mayor's Golf Classic Cheque Presentation

Funds raised in the amount of $23,188.355 at the June 2018 Mayor's Golf Classic were presented to the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation at the council meeting. It was explained that the Township asked the Foundation for a list of items that were needed, and the Township purchased two crash cart standardization units at $5,000.00 each, a vital sign monitor at $6,000.00 and an ETC02 monitor (which monitors carbon dioxide emissions from the body) for $7,000.00. The remaining balance of $188.35 will go to the foundation to help with future purchases.

Ed Note: The MRA is pleased to say that Deputy Mayor Baranik and Economic Development Officer Corey Moore have both worked tirelessly on the past four Mayor's Classics. In the past four years the Mayor's Classic has donated approximately $150,000.00 to the community.

Leonard Lake Rezoning and Severance Application

The application to sever and rezone lands on Leonard Lake into five new lots and one retained lot, and an official plan amendment (OPA 51) to impose site specific development policy was before both Committee of Adjustment and Council this month. It was explained at COA that the application had been deferred in late 2016 for a water quality impact and environmental impact studies, as Leonard Lake is deemed over threshold. These have been completed and peer reviewed.

The agent for the applicant explained to the committee that the applicant had met with staff from both Township and the District regarding their plans. Since the deferral the application had been amended to rezone the lands to Waterfront Residential 4 (WR4) which would prohibit further severances. The agent reminded committee that the Township does not have the recreational carrying capacity in its Official Plan and that development on over threshold lakes is allowed in the Township.

A presentation was then heard from the applicant's environmental consultants who stated that:

  • eight very detailed field studies had been done in 2017 and two further ones in 2018,
  • they looked at species at risk, soil samples, impacts of setbacks, locations of septic systems, pathways to docks
  • in their professional opinion the development was environmentally feasible,
  • water quality assessments have two parts ~ phosphorus levels and algae blooms,
  • water quality on Leonard Lake has not changed in 38 years and
  • as development on Leonard Lake increases there should be no change in water quality.

The residents of Leonard Lake, many represented by the Leonard Lake Stakeholders Association (LLSA), were in attendance to present their own finding and ask that the application be denied. Their concerns included, but are not limited to:

  • their water testing shows that phosphorus levels jump all over the lake,
  • that their studies were not given the same weight as the applicant's studies,
  • the application does not comply with the Official Plan,
  • recreational carrying capacity on the lake,
  • access would be an issue for the fire department,
  • two of their scientific reports were not reviewed,
  • algae blooms have been occurring on the lake
  • Leonard Lake is reaching its “tipping point”,
  • that the LLSA has excellent co-operation with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) regarding water testing,
  • that bringing consultants together to review finds would be extremely difficult and costly for the LLSA,
  • there would be financial implications regarding property values to the Township,
  • there is Type 1 Fish habitat on the retained lot,
  • road access would be across EP1 lands
  • the applicant's reports were presented to “support” the application and show evidence of bias,
  • the area is a deer wintering area,
  • renowned experts are saying something “is happening” on the lake, and
  • loons and beavers are no longer seen on the lake.

Committee then asked questions and made comments regarding:

  • algae blooms,
  • why water samples are taken in the spring but not the fall,
  • more studies were needed regarding deer wintering,
  • that the reports that had been peer reviewed made a recommendation in favour of the application,
  • that the applicant had done what was asked of them, and
  • water quality was a main concern.

Committee agreed to defer the application for one month to review all of the information that had been received on Wednesday, September 12th, 2018.

The application returned to the Council meeting on September 14th at which time planning staff informed Council that 127 submissions had been received regarding the application, the majority opposing the application but 21 were in support. Staff outlined that the three main concerns were water quality, environmental impact on fish, wildlife and wetlands and over development.

The applicant's agent explained that scientific comments seem to be at odds with each other and said they would agree to a one-month deferral, as had occurred at COA. The agent and consultants explained that the water quality impact and the environmental impact studies had been reviewed and showed no negative impact to Leonard Lake. They emphasized that:

  • the development would be under a consent agreement and site plan control,
  • the zoning would prohibit further severances,
  • the location of buildings is restricted,
  • the lots would be larger than others on the lake,
  • development is not restricted on over threshold lakes in the Township,
  • that the MNRF says only a small portion of the lands are deer wintering areas,
  • there are “other drivers” to algae blooms, you do not need phosphorus to have them, and
  • an algae bloom would cover the lake in a slime that was six inches thick.

There was once again a large turn-out of property owners from Leonard Lake who reviewed the presentations given at COA on Wednesday, as outlined above, as well as outlining further opposition explaining that:

  • the application had been denied by Council in 2016 and they encourage Council to do the same again,
  • that the application had been ongoing for two years which has been stressful, and they wanted a decision made,
  • no development should take place in deer wintering areas unless it can be demonstrated that there will be no impact on wildlife,
  • the consultants are offering an opinion but are “not backing it up” with documents,
  • there are Eastern Whip-Poor-Will are found on the property,
  • frogs and schools of minnows are no longer present on the lake,
  • the development is caught between the current OP and the new District OP,
  • it would be dangerous to approve the application as it would be precedent setting,
  • it is resident's responsibility to leave the lakes better than when they found them,
  • the lake is over developed with small lots,
  • the lake is already under-going redevelopment,
  • Leonard Lake is a bowl which is being affected by well, precipitation and less than normal snow-fall levels, and
  • the existence of back lots.

Council held a brief discussion among themselves, where they commented that:

  • the application had been deferred at COA and should be deferred at Council,
  • no solution would be found in a deferral of 30 days,
  • this is a “wouldn't it be nice” situation,
  • Council is supposed to protect the natural course of Muskoka
  • it is better to err on the side of caution,
  • another application could be made but if water quality decreases that cannot be changed, and
  • it was time to vote and “let the chips fall where they may”.

Council defeated both resolutions to firstly rezone the subject property as well as the Official Plan Amendment.

Santa Claus Parade

The Port Carling Lions Club has arranged for the Santa Claus Parade to be held on Saturday, November 17th, 2018. As such they requested permission to close Bailey Street from Joseph Street to just past the Port Carling Community Centre parking lot from 5 PM to 8 PM. The resolution carried with no discussion.

SREL Temporary Occupancy of Bala Falls Road

Director of Public Works, Roger Young, reported to Council that Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) requested a temporary road closure of Bala Falls Road to install water, sewer and utility services on a portion of the Bala Falls road-allowance. Mr. Young explained that staff were recommending that any/all disturbed areas be restored, that the restoration be completed to the satisfaction of the Public Works Director and traffic be stopped for a maximum of five minutes in both directions.

Frank Belerique, from SREL, explained that the District water-main was located on Township property and therefore this request was being made. Mr. Belerique confirmed for Council that he had previously made a commitment that there would be no road closures from May until following the Cranberry Festival. Following comments from Councillors Mr. Belerique agreed to not work on Remembrance Day or November 17th the day of the Santa Claus Parade.

The work on the Bala Falls Road portion of the project is expected to not take more than nine days. The resolution to allow the road closure was read and carried.


We apologize that the Township Watch is later
than normal this month,
as the MRA was busy preparing for the All Candidates Meeting.
The MRA thanks all who attended
the All Candidates Meeting on September 29th, 2018.

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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