Township Watch - July 2016

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

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

The MRA congratulates Teri Guthrie, Assistant Clerk for the Township of Muskoka Lakes, for earning a Diploma in Municipal Administration from the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO).  Ms Guthrie achieved an overall average of 86.2% which inducted her into the AMCTO Academic Honour Roll.

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, July 14, 2016

Planning Services

Director of Planning, David Pink, informed the committee that the Ministry of Natural Resource and Forestry has a guidebook to “assess and mitigate risk associated with wildfire risk”.    The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) has also been updated regarding wildland fire risk.  It is now recommended to develop outside of areas of fire risk and development should be allowed where wildland risk practices have been implemented.  This report from the province raised a large number of concerns that the District of Muskoka will raise with the province:

  • The mapping used was out of date,
  • The Township encourages plantings while the guidebook says to remove plantings,
  • In the future Township site plans may conflict with the PPS, and
  • It is felt that the fire mitigation factors may lead to confusion for both the public and staff.

Fire Chief Hayes explained to the committee that this plan came from Fire Smart which has been in effect for years.  The more recent document is to educate the public on how they can protect their own properties with suggestions such as removing the following from within 10 metres of their structures:  

  • Remove combustibles,
  • Prune trees & shrubs
  • Move wood pile,
  • Mow and water your grass.

This item was on the agenda for informational purposes only.  The guidebook can be found here - Fire Risk Assessment Fire Risk Assessment

General Services

Bruce Wilson Drive

Director of Public Works, Roger Young, informed the committee that the owners of the Port of Call Site Plan have approached the Township to assume responsibility for Bruce Wilson Drive as well as some green space, and the boat launch/parking on the Indian River.  An asset review by public works indicated that:

  • The launch was in need of immediate repair/enhancement,
  • The docks would require immediate removal and replacement,
  • Bruce Wilson Drive is not up to Township standards and
  • The first 85 metres of the road will need to be upgraded in two to three years, with the next 100 metres requiring upgrading by 2025.

It was requested that the Township bear all survey and legal costs of assuming the roadway.

During committee deliberation it became apparent that these lands are required for access to the Brock and Willa Wellness Centre.  And furthermore, that Wellness Centre had initially approached the property owners about the Township assuming responsibility for the road.  Committee members had concerns regarding:

  • The size of the road,
  • Spending taxpayers' dollars for this,T
  • The road not being brought up to standard prior to it being assumed,
  • Another boat ramp is not required by the Township,
  • If the Township assumes the road they will also assume its liability,
  • Why a strip of land between the Wellness Centre and Bruce Wilson Dr. was not included in the discussion.

Even though members of the Wellness Centre Committee had been negotiating this transaction for a few years, it was the first time it had come before the committee.  The issue was deferred for further information.

Second Quarter Financial Report

Treasurer, Shannon Johnson, reported to the committee that as of the end of the second quarter the operating budget was at 58.7% with 50% of the year remaining.

Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)

Anne Haines from MPAC presented an assessment update to the committee.  The assessments are out earlier than ever this year so that property owners can ensure that the data is correct and up to date before the roll number is taxed.  The new assessment will serve as the basis for calculating property taxes from the years 2017 to 2020.  Residential properties owners were sent their forms on July 11th, farms and managed forests will be mailed on October 11th and multi-residential and business notices will be mailed on October 18th, 2016.

To learn more about your assessment, visit

Clean Yard By-Law

Fire Prevention/By-Law Officer, Doug Holland presented a Clean Yard By-Law which would aid in proper cleaning and maintenance of properties.  This by-law would help with, among other things, lawns which are not maintained, derelict vehicles on people's yards, garbage that is put out too early and torn apart by animals.  It would strengthen the by-law department's ability to ensure that properties were cleaned up and maintained.   The current Property Standard By-Law provides an “order to remedy” a complaint with a 14 days' appeal period enforceable under the Ontario Building Code.  It was explained that this draft by-law would hold property owners responsible for their own lands and simplified time lines. 

Although several complaints have been received that the Township is not responsive to correcting complaints or to enforcing people to maintain their properties, the Committee discussed the draft by-law and had concerns regarding:

  • That boats were listed with the same conditions as vehicles,
  • That complaints received have nothing to do with garbage being put out too early,
  • That staff are not doing their job with mechanisms that are currently in place,
  • This would not help with abandoned properties,
  • The draft by-law was restrictive and intrusive, and
  • It was an aggressive by-law that was above & beyond what was needed.

Following the discussion, the draft Clean Yards By-Law was deferred.  Committee members were asked to contact either the Fire Chief or Fire Prevention/By-Law Officer with their concerns.  A copy of the draft by-law and associated “community zones” can by found here - Clean Properties Clean Properties

Council - Friday, July 15th 2016

Camp Oochigeas

Camp Oochigeas' application was in front of council to remove and rebuild several structures.  They were requesting a change in partial zoning to Waterfront Commercial – Private Camp, an increase in gross floor area, to recognize current setbacks and heights, relocating parking and a reduction in loading parking spaces to one spot.  A camp representative explained to council that Camp Oochigeas is a service that is provided to kids with cancer or who have had cancer.  After walking council through their expansion plans they requested that council consider the by-law as well as delegate authority to staff for site plan control.

After a very brief discussion the by-law passed first, second and third reading unanimously.

Fireworks By-Law

As reported in the June Township Watch (Township Watch - June 2016) a by-law to prohibit and regulate the setting off of fireworks was presented to Committee of the Whole.  This by-law was ratified by council and is now in effect.  For details on the Fireworks By-Law please click here - Fireworks Fireworks

Proposed Bala Falls Hydro-Electric Generating Station

Mitchell Shnier from presented.  His presentation regarded the location of tanks that will hold water removed during construction of the hydro dam.  Mr. Shnier was concerned that the application submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry shows tanks located in Margaret Burgess Park, Portage Landing as well as the Shield Parking lot.  Mr. Shnier also stated that Provincial approvals were still required before the plant can proceed.  Frank Belerique from Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) explained that Mr. Shnier was correct that one approval was still outstanding, but it had been applied for in April and they expect approval by the end of July.  Gunta Towsley from the ACGO spoke regarding concerns that it appeared that Margaret Burgess Park may still be at risk. 

During the discussion period Mr. Belerique explained that when the plans were submitted to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change that a lease to strictly use Township lands and not Margaret Burgess Park had not been reached.  He further explained that the MOECC is more concerned about how the removed water is “dealt with” than where the tanks are located.  It was suggested that Mayor Furniss write a letter to the MOECC stating that SREL and the Township have an agreement that states that the holding tanks will not be located in Margaret Burgess Park.

During these discussions it became known that the lease between the Township and SREL had not only been signed but lease monies had been received.  In an error of judgment, once the lease had been signed only those councillors who had voted for it had been informed by Mayor Furniss.  The public in attendance became loud and vocal causing Mayor Furniss to call Point of Order and warn members of the public if there was another disruption they will be asked to leave the room.  It was requested that the email be forwarded to the four councillors who did not receive it.

Mayor Furniss then asked Mr. Shnier if he was satisfied with the answers he had received from the MNRF regarding how quickly the coffer dams could be removed if need be, to which Mr. Shnier said yes it has been addressed.  It was further asked if Mr. Shnier was satisfied with the Ministry's response that swimming by a hydro dam is not allowed.  Mr. Shnier voiced his concerns that there is nothing in place to inform the public that the hydro dam will start up each day.

Councillor Currie then requested that council see the draft letter that Mayor Furniss was to write to the MOECC.  This request was denied.  Point of Order was called again when Councillor Currie continued to badger Mayor Furniss on the topic.  As chair of the meeting Mayor Furniss adjourned the meeting for lunch.

District of Muskoka

In follow up to the Township of Muskoka Lakes passing a one year trial by-law to allow ATV's on Township Road (Township Watch - April 2016), the District of Muskoka has passed their own trial by-law allowing at ATV's on all District Roads within the Township.


Regardless of the situation, yelling and shouting from the public seats is not acceptable.

It is important for committee members and councillors to remember that when the Chair asks for quiet or calls Point of Order that they are to cease speaking.  It is further inappropriate for councillors to make snide comments under their breath during meetings.  If they have something to say they should raise their hand and await their turn to speak.


If you have to come to Committee of Adjustment or Council

be advised you should have good planning reasons to oppose an application. 

The fact that you do not want a development is not a valid reason.


Enjoy our Muskoka summer.









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