As previously reported this item has been on a number of Committee of the Whole agendas and planning staff had been asked to “think outside the box” to find a solution for the Township. As a result, Jim Dyment, a consultant for MHBC (a planning / design / consulting firm) and Township solicitor Harold Elston presented to the committee their views on the issue. Mr. Dyment explained that the Town of Blue Mountain had spent $750,000.00 on a short-term rental housing by-law. Blue Mountain has amended its official plan and comprehensive zoning by-law, defended an OMB appeal, as well as a judicial review of the by-law before arriving at a by-law that is working well and self-policing. Mr. Dyment stated that the Township of Muskoka Lakes will need to update its Official Plan and Comprehensive Zoning By-Law before implementing a licensing by-law as well as have full time enforcement personnel. To read more of Mr. Dyment's presentation click - Cottage Rentals
Mr. Elston spoke about how the City of Toronto is studying the issue. One of the starting points is to amend the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law to include a definition of short term rentals, as without one, properties are considered to be residential. Toronto is considering having all property owners of short-term rentals and/or commercial operators who do so register with the city and they must comply with all relevant by-laws. If a property does not comply, or renters are a nuisance, the property will be removed from the registry. To read more of Mr. Elston's presentation click - Regulating Rentals
During committee discussions it was pointed out that Muskoka is different from other municipalities in that renting cottages in Muskoka to pay taxes is a 100 year old tradition. It was suggested that a short-term rental by-law be kept relatively simple by pin-pointing specific nuisances. Committee was also reminded that neighbours can bring nuisance suits against other neighbours.
Director of Planning, David Pink, again explained that it is not his intention to prohibit short term rentals in Muskoka but suggested that the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law should define what short term rentals are. A licensing program would deal with septic systems, occupancy, fire, parking and garbage. Mr. Pink further explained that although his department would be willing to help with this, they are not able to undertake the licensing of rentals, track down unlicenced rentals or be responsible for enforcement. Committee requested that a draft of a short- term rental by-law be brought back to committee.
The use of the Bala Bay Inn, which has been sold as staff housing, was on the agenda. According to Councillor Nishikawa the Bala Bay Inn has 36 rooms but they are housing over 100 individuals in the establishment. It is reported that some individuals are cooking in their rooms. Director of Planning, David Pink, explained to the committee that staff are researching the situation and that the by-law officer has been made aware of the situation. It was requested that staff bring a report forward and that the by-law officer, Chief Building inspector and Fire Chief be present for the discussion. Councillor Ledger pointed out that previously staff did bring a rooming house by-law forward and Council defeated it. Mr. Pink confirmed that the comprehensive zoning by-law was amended but the licensing portion of the by-law was defeated. This item was on the agenda for informational purposes only and no resolution was read.
Director of Public Works, Roger Young, spoke to the committee regarding the Scales Nature Park, Saving Turtles at Risk Today (START) Program Partnership. Two areas of high risk for turtles crossing Township roads have been identified, one on highway 169 and another on Southwood Road. Mr. Young was requesting committee support to present the situation to the District as both are District Roads. He was there specifically to request a “co-pay” with the District, as well as allocating funds in the 2018 budget for turtle fencing in both locations. The resolution was read and carried.
Fire Chief Hayes, explained to the committee that the ATV by-law was passed for a one year term and that he recommends that it continue. Chief Hayes further suggested that the Township put forward to the District of Muskoka that they keep their by-law in place as well. The resolution was read and carried with none opposed.
CAO, Steve McDonald, informed committee that he had assembled the survey - Survey and tried to keep it as brief as possible. This survey will be done in conjunction with two public Committee of the Whole meetings on Thursday, July 13th and Thursday, August 17th commencing at 9 AM to obtain public input on service levels provided by the Township to its taxpayers. Committee members voiced concern that the public meetings were going to be held in the daytime and during the work week. Mayor Furniss explained that additional meetings could be added if they were warranted. The committee was asked to submit their comments on the survey directly to Mr. McDonald. This item was for informational purposes only and no resolution was read.
As reported in the March 2017 Township Watch, the Lippa Pit & Quarry application - Quarry , for a Category 1 Pit and Category 2 Quarry, passed at Committee of the Whole to be circulated to the public. Over 200 people attended Council to oppose the application to rezone the lands on Butler Mills Road from Rural 2 (RU2) to Rural/Industrial Extraction (RUM3) with the remainder of the property being Open Space (OS2) and Environmentally Protected (EP1). As well as the crowd that was present, the Township's Planning Department received 68 pieces of correspondence opposing the application. (Please note this application and presenters took close to four hours. It is extremely difficult to summarize that into a couple of paragraphs!)
Representatives for the applicant reviewed their proposal and explained that the property is 54.8 hectares in size with the extraction site being 23 hectares. They further explained that they were at the meeting to gather public input and to address concerns raised in submitted correspondence. Concerns included:
Following the presentation, Mr. Lippa's representative asked that the application be deferred.
This was subsequently followed by 31 presentations by those in attendance voicing concerns regarding, but not limited to the following:
At the conclusion of the presentations, Councillor Edwards explained that he had heard enough information and would not be supporting the application. After a brief discussion at the council table applications to rezone the property, as well as an Official Plan Amendment were defeated unanimously in recorded votes.
Even though MRA representatives do not often attend District of Muskoka meetings, we do realize this information is also very important to you. Therefore, the MRA is pleased to announce that an area has been designated on our website www.muskokaratepayers.ca where we will be posting relevant and important District articles. These postings will be found under “News” and then “Township and District Reports”.
We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable time
celebrating Canada's 150th birthday.
Please remember our Annual General Meeting
is on Saturday July 15th, 2017.
Please being a donation for the West Muskoka Food Bank.
To Renew your Membership or to Join the Muskoka Ratepayers' Association
MRA - Board Meeting
Nov 25, 2017 9:00am to 1:00pm
TML - Committee of Adjustment
Dec 13, 2017 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Committee of the Whole
Dec 14, 2017 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Council
Dec 15, 2017 9:00am to 12:00pm