Township Watch - August 2016


Thank you to those who have renewed their memberships. If you have not yet renewed your membership for 2016, please contact us at membership@muskokaratepayers.ca

A blank membership form may be accessed here Membership Form - 2016 Membership Form - 2016


Committee of the Whole - Thursday, August 11, 2016

Short Term Rentals

Cassandra Ford, a Bala resident, was before committee regarding short term property rentals.  A property on her street is being rented out on Airbnb and in her words is being used as a “frat house”.  The four bedroom home with 40 feet of frontage on Lake Muskoka is being rented out to as many as 19 people.  The residents of the area claim they are being exposed to “constant and excessive partying”, there is clearly “an abundance of drugs and alcohol”, “lewd behaviour” and “excessive noise”.  The presenter questioned why a franchise, which is a commercial business, is allowed to operate in a residential area.

Although the committee was sympathetic, no solution was found.  Director of Planning, David Pink explained that, according to the Planning Act a residential unit is “habitable space” and that is what this property is being used as.  CAO, Steve McDonald reminded committee that Mr. Pink did bring this matter forward in May for informational purposes and staff were directed to monitor the issue and keep track of the situation.

Mist Opportunities - Touchstone on Lake Muskoka

This development on Lake Muskoka came to committee to request an amendment to their site plan.  The Beach House units, formerly the Grand Muskokan, are to increase in number as well as in size.  While the Boat House units, formerly Cascade C, is to be divided into two buildings with increased units but less ground floor area.  These requests comply with previously approved density.

Touchstone's planner explained to the committee that the development was moving forward with the new sewage treatment system.  An application for the new system has been made to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and is currently under review.

After a very brief discussion the committee voted for the amended site plan.  At the request of the developer the site plan was ratified at Council the following day.

Petawawa Renewable Power Corp.

Mark Bell from Petawawa Renewable Power Corp. presented a proposal to committee to lease a derelict pit on Southwood Road for a solar project.  The 1200 acres of land can support 5 to 10 megawatts of energy.  The exact amount of land that would be required would not be determined until construction began.  The Township would receive $50,000.00 to $100,000.00 yearly for a 20 year lease, at which point the lands revert back to the Township.

The application was moved forward to Council.

West Muskoka Food Bank

President, Terry Chute, asked committee for the use of the lower level of Glen Orchard Community Centre for the food bank.  Mr. Chute explained they have outgrown their current location.  The Glen Orchard Community Centre would allow the food bank to have their fridge, freezers and food in one location with some extra space for a potential Thrift Store and community kitchen.

Staff and committee members agreed it was an excellent use of the under used facility and voted  in favour.  To learn more about the West Muskoka Food Bank click here (1608 - Food Bank.pdf Food Bank)

Bruce Wilson Drive

As reported in the July Township Watch (Township Watch - July 2016) a proposal was put forth for the Township to assume ownership of Bruce Wilson Drive.  Since that time, the proponent has temporarily retracted the proposal to explore other opportunities.

Township Reserves

Treasurer, Shannon Johnson, reported to committee that at the end of 2015 the Township had reserves of $7,832,096 or 85.1% of the levy.  The discretionary reserves were 46.4% which is 1.5% below the 2014 Provincial levels of 47.9%.  Projected reserves for the end of 2016 are $6,800,458 or 71% of the levy.  This will put the discretionary reserves at 40%, well below the 2014 Provincial level.   A more detailed explanation can be found here - Agenda Package - 160811 - COW - Item 7.b.2 - August 11, 2016.pdf Financial Reserve Transactions - 2015. A resolution to accept the report was read and carried.

2015 Audited Financial Statements

Nicole White from BDO Dunwoody explained to the committee that the Township had tangible capital assets of $50+ million.  It is BDO's opinion that the Township had a “clean audit”.  Committee voted to accept the financial statement.  The full report can be found here - Agenda Package - 160811 - COW - Item 7.b.1 - August 11, 2016.pdf Audited Financial Statements - 2015

Fluoride in Municipal Water Supply

Councillor Ledger put forth a resolution to remove fluoride from the municipal water supply.  A report written by her personal intern provided reasons for this request.  Councillor Nishikawa pointed out that in the last term of council the community voted to keep fluoride in the municipal water supply. 

Mayor Furniss and Councillor Harding explained that committee should defer to the experts.  While District Councillor Harding, chair of District Public Works, asked the committee to actually educate themselves with facts versus voting on an opinion.  In a recorded vote, the committee voted 7 to 3 to remove fluoride from the municipal water supply.  This decision must now be ratified at Council in September.

(ED note: if you are in favour of water fluoridation in the Township of Muskoka Lakes please write the council explaining your request to have municipal water fluoridated.)

Council - Friday, August 12, 2016

Agenda Change

A delegation by Save the Bala Falls spokesperson Mitchell Schnier, was removed from the agenda as the first Council item.

Campbell Strategies

When the new OPP costing model came forth the District of Muskoka cost for policing increased by 70%.  District Council voted to bill lower tier municipalities based on their levy.  This impacted negatively on the Township of Muskoka Lakes, Georgian Bay and Lake of Bays.  Although attempts have been made to change this model at the District level, the “Towns” out vote the “Townships” each time.

The Mayors from the Township of Muskoka Lakes, Georgian Bay and Lake of Bays have been working collaboratively on fighting for a new costing model. Campbell Strategies was hired to be their voice at the Provincial level.  The Township of Muskoka Lakes is currently paying $6 million for annual policing charges, whereas they would only be paying $3 million if the OPP costing model was adopted.

Mayor Furniss asked committee for support to extend Campbell Strategies contract for another four months at a cost of $5,775.00 per month.

In a recorded vote of 7 to 3, committee voted to continue to retain the lobby group.

 

During the recent dry weather and total fire ban, including fireworks,

there seems to be some confusion as to when you should call 911.

The Township has provided the following for your assistance -

muskokalakes.civicwebcms.com/content/911-muskoka

 

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