1 – Improvements for TML / Better Community:
I believe that the Township needs to:
- Get the Zoning By-laws right. The Official Plan sets out the overall policies. What really matters however is how it is implemented. The By-Laws need to be clearly written and the requirements easy to understand.
- Streamline Township processes and decision making.
- Actively pursuing opportunities to help businesses and organizations, new and old, develop and prosper. With a couple of caveats – 1) that they will not negatively impact the quality of Muskoka’s Water, and 2) that any development must be done responsibly, mindful of their impact on the well being of other people and organizations in Muskoka.
- Develop, in conjunction with other organizations, credible action plans for the most urgent issues facing the Township such as affordable housing, improving healthcare, effective septic management, short term rentals, managing costs, and eliminating duplication wherever possible.
- Ensure that the concerns and ideas of all the citizens, businesses and organizations are fully understood. The voice of all, not just the few, must be heard and assessed.
2 – Tax Increases / Effective Delivery:
Obviously, property taxes are the biggest source of funds to pay for the services provided by the Township. Recognizing that the District receives approximately 50% of the tax levy and only 20% of taxes flow back to the Township, I would do the following:
- Set up a working group to
- identify opportunities for cost reductions for services provided by the District of Muskoka, and
- pressure the District for relief.
- Arrange for Township staff to identify opportunities for attracting more revenue.
- Establish a task force to determine:
- Can the service be provided by using a user pay approach?
- If every option has been explored to provide the same or equivalent service at a lower cost?
- What are other municipalities doing that we can learn from to reduce costs?
3a – Data to Justify Environmental Improvements:
I believe that there will be environmental improvements forthcoming from these proposed changes.
Preserving the quality of the water in Muskoka is significantly important because the well-being of everyone living and working in Muskoka, let alone attending on a seasonal basis, is clearly dependent on it. In my mind environmental quality (especially water) is not subject to debate. Even the smallest improvement in water quality is important.
Water Quality is not just an environmental issue but a fundamental factor in Muskoka’s economic success or failure. If water quality deteriorates so does tourism, property values, local job opportunities and personal incomes, let alone enjoyment by seasonal residents.
3b – Financial Impact of Regulatory Environmental Changes:
Councillor provided a single answer to both parts a and b of this question – see above.
4 – Affordable Housing:
Addressing housing affordability/attainability is a complex issue which will require the participation of all levels of government and the private sector.
- Examine, with Planning Staff, the possible options to reduce/waive Township development costs.
- Encourage Township’s District Councillors to lead the formation of a District and Municipality task force to address this challenging subject.