Township Watch - February 2017

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lakeside Lodge

A site plan for the 44-housekeeping unit development was submitted to the Township for Lakeside Lodge.  Although previous site plans had been entered into, and extended with the developer, they had lapsed when conditions were not fulfilled.  The site plan before the committee was similar to one that had previously been approved with three small changes.  At a neighbour's request three units were moved farther from the property line, a pedestrian link, via a right of way, has been agreed to and dock width must be amended as they no longer comply with the zoning by-law.

Planner for the applicant explained that although the developer, Mr. Ken Fowler, passed away recently his passion for Muskoka and Minett was obvious to many.  Mr. Fowler's family and team wish to move the development forward.  This was made easier when two members of the public who had previously objected to the development complimented those who had been working on the site plan and agreed with the five conditions that were included.

The resolution to approve the site plan was read and carried. 

Cranberry Road

Due to safety issues on Cranberry Road, the owners of Johnston's Cranberry Marsh met with the Public Works Department regarding expanding the shoulders of the road to create more parking.  Director of Public Works, Mr. Roger Young, informed the committee that four areas of potential parking areas had been identified by expanding the shoulder of the road.  The Cranberry Marsh requested that the Township be involved in the initial work and that the Cranberry Marsh would maintain the work on a going forward basis.  Following a discussion it was decided that the Cranberry Marsh be allowed to do the requested improvements to the road shoulders to the Township standards, but they would have to bear the costs for the improvements.  The resolution was read and carried.

Voting Methods in the 2018 Municipal Election

Township Clerk, Cheryl Mortimer, reported to the committee that clerks from across Muskoka had prepared a report - Voting Voting - on alternative voting methods for the 2018 municipal election.  They recommending that internet and telephone voting be adopted.  It was decided that this was the most effective way to reach electors, allow for a longer time to watch and listen to candidates and vote.   As well, it would reach approximately, based on the 2014 election, 71% of voters in the Township of Muskoka Lakes who do not reside full time in Muskoka.  It was explained that there would be kiosks and rotating voting stations in community centres for those who did not have internet connections and did not wish to vote by phone.  The resolution was carried and is scheduled to be ratified by Council in March.

Port Carling Figure Skating Gala

The Port Carling Figure Skating Club requested that they and Brian Orser be granted permission to use the Port Carling arena for two weeks in August to run a skating school for local and international skaters.  The arena would be required from Monday, August 21 to Friday August 25th and Monday, August 28th to Friday, September 1st.  As well, the Gala Performance would be held on Saturday, August 26th.  As this is a fund-raising event for the Port Carling Figure Skating Club, they requested that rental fees for the arena on the afternoon of the Gala and the “VIP Meet and Greet” in the Port Carling Community Centre be waived.  The resolution was carried and is scheduled to be ratified by Council in March.

Council - Friday, February 17, 2017

Zoning Amendment Applications

The Council meeting began with three large and controversial zoning amendment applications which were defeated.  Although each was discussed fully by council it was interesting to see the weight that neighbour's comments had on the applications.   These applications can be found - Agenda Package - pages 45 to 187

By-Law Enforcement & Property Standards Officer

Council voted unanimously in favour of appointing Jon Popple as the Township's new by-law enforcement and property standards officer.  Mr. Popple come to the Township highly recommended because of his municipal by-law enforcement experience.  He will begin on March 6, 2017.

2017 Budget

This portion of the meeting began with two individuals requesting that funding for the Port Carling Visitors Centre in the Duke House and run by the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce (MLCC) be put back into the budget.  They explained that Council was closing the Visitors Centre on short notice.  Although the MLCC was looking for another location, to date they had not been able to find one.  MLCC asked if council could control the sale of the Duke House so that the MLCC could run the Visitor Centre in it for the 2017 season.  Not all of Council agreed that the MLCC should be given the $18,000.00 that had been their request at the public budget meeting.

Treasurer, Shannon Johnson then presented the budget -1702 - Budget.pdf Budget - to Council, explaining that following the last Special Committee of the Whole meeting staff had been directed to see if they could find any further reductions in the budget.  Senior staff had met on February 7th and were able to reduce the operating budget by a further $117,874.00 -1702 - Changes.pdf Changes

Following the introduction of the budget, Council had a lengthy discussion including the following topics:

Fire Department

  • Could volunteer fire fighter training be reduced by 50%?
  • Could remuneration for fire truck maintenance be decreased?
  • Could the life of fire trucks be increased from 20 years to 25 years?

Fire Chief Hayes explained to council that the fire department training was done two nights a month so that the fire department is operational.  Chief Hayes then explained that the department is required to do “post response” checks on their vehicles to ensure that the trucks are “road ready”.  So the answer to the above question is no, in the interest of public safety.

Development Services

  • Why were student positions of septic inspectors removed from the budget?

Chief Building Official, Neil Donald explained that the students who had held the positions in the past were not returning, and no requests had been made to continue with the septic inspection program.

Economic Development

  • The MLCC request to have the monies to run the visitor centre was put back into the budget. 

It was also questioned if service levels provided by the Township would be changing.  CAO, Steve McDonald, explained that very small and minimal changes had been made but essentially levels of service were to remain status quo.  Mayor Furniss reminded Council that he has committed to hold two public meetings to hear if the taxpayers of the Township of Muskoka Lakes wish to see a reduction in services.

In recorded votes, Council voted:

  • Unanimously to have septic inspectors added to the budget,
  • Six to four in favour of $16,000.00 being added to the budget for the Visitor Centre,
  • Four to six against webcasting be re-added to the budget,
  • Seven to two that the “fire department line items for operating expenses and general wages and benefits included in the 2017 budget” be approved.  (Councillor Baranik had declared a conflict on this item and left the table prior to the vote.), and
  • seven to three to adopt the 2017 budget.

The final 2017 budget is 7.96% which equates to $6.62 per $100,000.00 of property assessment.

District of Muskoka Budget

At a District Council meeting on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 the tax supported budget was passed.  The District levy increase is 1.78% which equates to $2.70 per $100,000.00 of property assessment.


The MRA continues to be disheartened by the lack of respect shown by some councillors to each other but more importantly towards staff.  Staff should be offered a level of respect and decorum which is simply not occurring at times.

It is unfortunate that two plus years into this term of council some councillors still do not seem to understand Robert's Rules of Order and how to behave at committee and council meetings.


Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

TML - Committee of the Whole
Apr 11, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Council
Apr 12, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
MRA - Board Meeting
Apr 27, 2019 9:00am to 1:00pm
MRA - AGM 2019
Jul 20, 2019 10:00am to 12:00pm
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