Township Watch - November 2020

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

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

Integrity Commissioner - Mid-Term Training

Township of Muskoka Lakes Integrity Commissioner, Suzanne Craig, provided Committee members with mid-term training. Ms. Craig reminded committee members when elected as an individual they ceased to represent individual groups and became part of Council who operates as a body according to the Municipal Act and should not appear or give special treatment to anyone. Ms. Craig's role as Integrity Commissioner is a resource to members of Council, advises Councillors, investigates complaints but not to provide legal advice. The entire presentation can be found here - Code of Conduct.

Ms. Craig reviewed the following points for members of Council:

  • Members of Council are not to make unilateral decisions or insert themselves with Township staff.
  • If a complaint is filed against a member of Council, she will ask the complainant if they have contacted the member of Council who they are complaining about, suggests that mediation occur and if necessary, will investigate the complaint.
  • Prior to March 1st, 2019 if a complaint was found to be justified Ms. Craig would make recommendations to Council on what should occur, but it was up to Council to implement any penalties.
  • Penalties could include a reprimand, loss of pay for 90 days to removal from Committee or Chair of a Committee.
  • According to the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA) a complaint must be filed within six weeks of the alleged infraction coming to the complainant’s attention.
  • Changes to the MCIA came into effect on March 1st, 2019 and contraventions to the MCIA are now enforced by the courts where the penalties are broader including reprimand, suspension of pay for 90 days, removal from Committee, removal from Council and not being able to run for seven years and making restitution.
  • There is a difference between asking staff for advice and trying to influence staff.
  • Closed session information is confidential, and although members of the public can discuss the information, members of Council cannot.

Following her presentation Ms. Craig publicly thanked Township Clerk Cheryl Mortimer saying Ms. Mortimer works tirelessly with the Integrity Commissioner and thanked Ms. Mortimer for all she does.

Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce

Executive Director from the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Norah Fountain provided committee with a high-level report of the Chambers 2020 activities. Ms. Fountain highlighted three major accomplishments that the Chamber achieved in 2020.

  • The Chamber supported local businesses during COVID-19 through the Muskoka Economic Recovery Funds. 17 businesses in the Township of Muskoka Lakes benefited from this.
  • The Chamber rallied necessary agencies and were able to open July 1st to continue to serve the Township of Muskoka Lakes. This is certainly a major accomplishment as other Chambers in the area did not open at all.
  • The Chamber ran extra “shop local” campaigns including ads in the National Post regarding shops in Port Carling.

The entire Annual report including a Year in Review, the Chamber’s hyper local marketing campaigns, Muskoka Lakes Chamber understanding roles and responsibilities, what does the Chamber do on an ongoing basis and the Chamber’s business case can be read here - Chamber Report.


Ed Note The Muskoka Ratepayers commend The Chamber for all their hard work and everything they do for the community as a whole.

Third Quarter Financial Update

Director of Financial Service, Mark Donaldson informed Committee that as of the end of September 2020 the Township is forecasting a small surplus for 2020. The Township is also expecting to see a decrease in revenue due to waiving of late fees on property tax payments and loss of revenue from the closure of the Community Centres and arenas all related to COVID-19. Full details can be found in the staff report prepared by Mr. Donaldson - Financial Update. Councillor Jaglowitz complimented Mr. Donaldson on an excellent report. This item was for information and no resolution was read.

Calgary Foundation Donation to the Minett Firefighters Association

According to Fire Chief, Ryan Murrell the Calgary Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to improving communities in specific geographical areas, wishes to donate $4,000.00 to the Minett Firefighters Association. The monies will b spend to replace a snowmobile with an ATV.

This item was for information, and no resolution was read.

Remembrance Day

Just prior to 11 o’clock Chair Zavitz asked the Committee to pause for two minutes and “stop to remember”. Following the minutes of silence Chair Zavitz read the following words, which he kindly provided to us.

“Today on November 11th, 2020, across Canada and in many other countries, people will be having virtual or physically smaller gatherings to honour the courage and devotion of brave men and women who made the supreme sacrifice of dying for their country.

The hostilities of the First World War ceased on November 11, 1918, at 11:00 AM the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The following year marked the first observance of a day to remember and honour those who died, as well as to give thanks for the sacrifices of those who came back from serving their country. Since then, Canadians have fought in other conflicts and many have given their lives so that we might enjoy freedom today.

Like many of us, I have not had to sacrifice anything for my freedom. It was given to me, by those who came before me and sacrificed so much. So now, it is my responsibility to never forget their service and the sacrifices of more than one and a half million Canadian soldiers, sailors, aircrew and merchant seaman.

They died so I could have the freedom to give this speech. So I could get an education. Get a job. Live a free life. I am forever in their debt.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we enjoy life in peace and safety, we pay our respects to all of the fallen, all of the wounded and all who served in conflicts over the last 100 years. Today, as we should every day, we remember those who volunteered, sacrificed, served, fought, and died, for our freedom. In closing, I’d like to say a few more words, at the end of which, I’d like you to join me in saying, “we will remember them”.

“They were young, as we are young,
They served, giving freely of themselves.
To them, we pledge, amid the winds of time,
To carry their torch and never forget.”
“We will remember them.”

Council - Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

2019 Audited Financial Statement

Nicole White, a partner at BDO informed Council that they had received a “clean audit” again this year. Ms. White provided a high-level report of the Township’s Consolidated Financial Statement - Consolidate Financial Statement and a final report to members of Council - Audit - Final Report. There were no questions or comments from members.

Later in the meeting, following a brief presentation by Director of Financial Services Mark Donaldson, Council voted to receive and approve the Consolidated Financial Statements ending December 31st, 2019.

Appointment of Chief Building Official

A by-law was passed at the Council meeting to appoint Nick Snyder to the position of Chief Building Official.

Ed Note The Muskoka Ratepayers congratulate Mr. Snyder on his promotion.

Parks Use By-Law

This item was recommended by the General/Finance Committee in October 2020 with a few changes. The necessary changes were made, and the by-law was presented to Council. Prior to approving the by-law Director of Public Works, Ken Becking, explained that by-laws when written appear prohibitive and negative. What they are really saying is that activities in parks such as throwing a frisbee or playing “catch” can be done except where they are specifically prohibited.

A resolution to approve the by-law was read and carried.

Parking Restrictions on Milford Bay Road

Director of Public Works, Ken Becking, provided Council with a written report on the parking situation on Milford Bay Road as requested at the October General/Finance meeting. The report suggested a No Parking Zone be established on the south side of Milford Bay Road from Milford Manor Road to Milford Creek Bridge. Council had no questions about the by-law. A resolution was read and carried.

Planning Committee - Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Joseph River Cell Tower

A representative from CanACRE on behalf of Bell Mobility presented to Committee details on a proposed cell tower on the Joseph River. This proposed tower will drastically improve coverage for both cell phones and wireless high-speed connections. The tower would be a monopine tower and stand 29.9 metres high. Confirmation has been received from Transport Canada that no light would be required on the tower. According to the presenter Bell Mobility went above and beyond to engage the public and no objections were received. CanACRE requested that Committee approve their request for a letter of concurrence.

Committee voted to recommend to Council that a letter of concurrence be provided and a copy be sent to Innovation Science & Development Canada.

Legal Non-Complying Provisions

Director of Development Services and Environmental Sustainability, David Pink, explained to Committee that the legal non-complying section of the comprehensive zoning by-law was a long standing and heavily used technical section of the comprehensive zoning by-law. As the comprehensive zoning by-law became more restrictive over the years, building throughout the Township became legal non-complying. The term legal non-complying means that a structure no longer complies with the comprehensive zoning by-law but did when it was built. A legal non-complying structure is recognized as a legal structure, and as such is allowed to be reconstructed as a right. In the past the Township read this section of the by-law and permitted it to “function collectively”, meaning that each non-compliance was permitted to be repeated if a structure was rebuilt. A legal opinion has been received by the Township which states that the comprehensive zoning by-law should be read “mutually exclusively”, meaning if there is more than one part of the structure that does not comply with the by-law the property should be frozen. This opinion has been confirmed by the Township’s solicitor. The full staff report can be read here - Non-Complying Provisions.

Mr. Pink outlined five sections for the non-complying portion of the by-law and outlined staff’s suggested changes:

  • Undersized lot: A lot of record where a structure is permitted to be built has more than 100 feet of frontage and a minimum 15,000 square foot lot area. Staff recommend that expansion or changes to these structures no longer be permitted in the comprehensive zoning by-law. A property owner with an undersized lot will now need to apply for a minor variance or zoning by-law amendment if they wish to redevelop/alter their property. Such an application would trigger a site-specific review.
  • Required “yards”: Currently if a structure is too close to the road or property line expansion is permitted according to present day setbacks. Staff do not recommend any changes to this section.
  • Lot coverage: Currently if a property is developed to its maximum lot coverage a property owner has the ability to add a second storey to their structure. As the addition of a second storey contributes to built form and could dominate the shoreline, staff are recommending that this section be removed “as a right” and property owners will be required to apply for a minor variance or zoning by-law amendment.
  • Height: Currently this section of the by-law allows for an increase in height of a structure as long as the floor area of the structure does not change. For example, a property owner is permitted to alter their flat roof boathouse to a peaked roof. Staff are not recommending any changes.
  • Shoreline Structure Width: Currently, shoreline structures that are legal non-complying due to their width are permitted “as a right” to extend the structure in length to a maximum of 66 feet for docks and 50 feet for boathouses. This has a visual impact on shorelines and staff recommend that the provision be removed. If a property owner wished to expand their shoreline structure they will need to apply for a minor variance or zoning by-law amendment.

Mr. Pink informed Committee if they wished to proceed with the changes the next steps would be to draft a by-law amendment and Notice of Public Meeting to obtain public and agency input on the proposed changes. Following a few questions and brief comments Pink explained that these changes will have a significant impact to the development community and what is allowed or not allowed. It is anticipated that the changes will cause confusion for building staff, planning staff and the development community and time will be required to review each proposal to verify if it complies or not.

Mr. Pink offered three options to Committee, also explaining that they are not obligated to move forward in haste with this:

  • the recommendations outlined above.
  • “clean up” the comprehensive zoning by-law.
  • “roll” it into the Official Plan Review.

Committee voted to recommend to Council that they circulate the updates to the comprehensive zoning by-law for a public meeting in accordance with the Planning Act requirements.

Ed Note If you have concerns about your property rights the Muskoka Ratepayers encourage you to take the time to write the Council and copy the Planning Department voicing your concerns.

Appointment of Manager of Planning

The Muskoka Ratepayers would like to congratulate Bryce Sharpe on his promotion to Manager of Planning at the Township of Muskoka Lakes.

District Engineering & Public Works Committee - Monday, November 16th, 2020

Speed Limit Reduction on Peninsula Road

The District Engineering and Public Works Committee received a recommendation from staff to reduce the speed limit on Peninsula Road. Director of Engineering and Transportation, Mark Misko, explained to committee that several years ago the District completed a speed analysis on Peninsula Road and as a result reduced the number of “speed zones”. At the request of the Township of Muskoka Lakes a field appraisal was recently completed regarding the speed limit on Peninsula Road. It was determined that the 50 Km/hr zone be extended approximately 2 kilometres north from 1327 Peninsula Road to 1667 Peninsula Road (approximately Hemlock Point Road to Gregory Road). This speed reduction will reduce the “speed zones” on Peninsula Road to two. The resolution carried unanimously and must now be ratified at District Council next month.

District Joint Committee Meeting - Thursday, November 18th, 2020

Official Plan Amendment 49 - Minett

A joint Community and Planning Services Committee and Engineering and Public Works Committee meeting was held at the District to discuss proposed Official Plan Amendment 49 (OPA49). Township of Muskoka Lakes Council voted to circulate OPA49 for public comment. OPA49 then went to the District where staff recommended that the District not support private communal services for major residential or mixed use development in Minett, and that draft OPA49 not proceed. The District’s staff report can be found here - District - Minett.

Committee members heard three deputations on the matter voicing concerns including:

  • the Township of Muskoka Lakes does not need another “settlement area”.
  • Minett does not want to be a “Village”.
  • if OPA49 was to proceed, bonds should be posted to ensure ongoing costs of the system are not paid for by the taxpayer.
  • private commercial services are acceptable but not for residential units.
  • the development should take place in phases.
  • there should be a maximum of 1000 units with owners being allowed to occupy them for 26 weeks a year with only four weeks during the summer months.
  • boating is already a problem in Wallace Bay, and
  • the waterfront is for resort commercial uses and not residential.

A representative for the owners of Clevelands House, The Rock, Wallace Bay and 400 acres in Minett stated that they were not against municipal services as long as they were able to work with the District to develop the plant. He reminded those present that the new owner of the property is committed to protecting the natural environment and the lake.

Committee then held an extensive discussion on whether the development should have private communal services or municipal services, including voicing concerns that private residential units should not be allowed in resort commercial waterfront areas regardless of the services provided.

A resolution was read to support District staff’s recommendation to not proceed with circulation of OPA 49 and carried. According to the Commissioner of Community and Planning Services at the District, Samantha Hastings, this vote takes private communal services for residential development “off the table”. The developer can proceed with mixed development, if approved by the Township, on municipal services or revise their proposal by removing residential units and proceed with resort commercial development on private communal services. Township Council now has to decide if they wish to revise their OPA to remove reference to private communal services before circulation.

Schedule your virtual visit with Santa through the
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Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

TML - Committee of Adjustment
Apr 12, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - General / Finance Committee
Apr 14, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Council
Apr 14, 2021 1:00pm to 5:00pm
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Apr 15, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
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Apr 24, 2021 10:00am to 1:00pm
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