Township Watch - May 2017


The MRA welcomes Sarah Lehman to her new position as the Township's Human Resources/Health and Safety Specialist.  Sarah brings with her 15 years of experience in both the private and public sectors.

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, May 11th, 2017

2016 Water Quality Report

Chris Cragg, the Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA) Water Quality and Environment Chair, presented to committee the results of their 2016 water quality testing.  The MLA monitoring program began in 2001, with sampling four times a year at 190 sites in 54 areas on 18 lakes and rivers.  The program tests for phosphorus, E.coli, clarity, temperature and dissolved organic carbon.  In general, phosphorus levels were down at test sites, with increases at only five of them.  A full and comprehensive report can be read here -Water Quality Report Water Quality Report

Villas of Lake Muskoka

The District of Muskoka, the approval authority for condominium developments, requested Township comments on the Villas of Lake Muskoka's proposed condominium agreement.  The development, across from The Fairways at Kirrie Glen, was previously approved for 14 buildings comprised of 23 units.   As there is a lack of recreational facilities and amenities on the property, concerns were raised that the swimming pool was not being built during the first phase of construction.  If the property had a swimming pool, spa and/or restaurant it would look like a resort and not a residential subdivision.  The developer's planning consultant explained that the project does have site plan approval and in Phase 1, 15 units and a club house are being built along with a nice beach and docking facilities.  The pool will be built in Phase 2 as it is not realistic to build a pool while construction continues across the property.  It was also explained that the pool is listed in the condominium documents which ensures it will be built.  The resolution was read and carried.

Council Composition

CAO McDonald presented a report to committee on the potential cost savings for the Township if the Municipal Council was reduced in size by three Councillors -Council Composition Council Composition.   Your current Township of Muskoka Lakes council is composed of ten members - the Mayor, three councillors who sit on both the Municipal and District Council and six Municipal councillors.  Mayor Furniss explained that when the Townships merged in 1971, the ten-member council was established.  He reminded everybody to keep in mind that communication was substantially different in 1971 than it is now.  The internet and email makes it much more effective now.  Some councillors felt that:

  • in 1971, councillors did not receive 20 emails a day
  • because communication is now easier, they are contacted more frequently
  • could they afford to do the job if the work load was increased by 30%
  • a report should be written on the size of the Township in 1971, the number of staff and the size of the budget
  • this topic should be brought up at the public meetings this summer
  • if they are expected to do 30% more work, they would expect 30% more pay
  • perhaps with a smaller council, there would not be enough input at the table, and
  • the public should be informed about what they would gain and lose by having a smaller council.

This item was on the agenda to be received and direction given to staff on how to proceed.  There was no resolution read.

(Ed Note: The MRA believes that the public needs to be further educated on this topic before an informed decision can be made.)

Council - Friday, May 12th, 2017

Action Items

Resolutions carried at the Committee of the Whole meeting from the previous month are enacted as a group at the beginning of the council meeting. Councillors are permitted to request that an action item be removed and discussed separately.   As reported in the April Township Watch - Township Watch - April 2016 - committee voted in favour of an accounts receivable policy that would allow the Township to collect outstanding debt.  Per procedure, Councillor Harding asked that this item be re-discussed and questioned the need for the new policy.  CAO McDonald explained that there is close to $40,000.00 in outstanding monies owed to the Township and this policy would provide a provision to collect it as not all outstanding debt can be added to a citizen's tax role.   Councillor Harding further stated that the policy is designed to enable the Township to put the line item of $25,000.00 on a tax bill, whereas the Municipal Act will not allow it.  It was explained that the policy would allow the Township to treat all individuals with an outstanding debt the same way.  In a recorded vote of 6 to 1 the policy was enacted with Councillor Harding voting against it.  (Councillor Currie and Mayor Furniss were not present at the time, and Councillor Nishikawa had left the room)

(Ed Note: The MRA is pleased to see that steps are being taken by the Township to initiate collecting the outstanding $25,000.00.)

Burgess Memorial Church - Bala

This property was before council to be rezoned from Institutional (I) to Community Commercial (C3).   The heritage designated “Burgess Memorial Church” had been (C3) until the passing of comprehensive zoning by-law 14-14 when it reverted to (I).  The applicant was requesting the zoning to a “tourist resort event centre” for the traveling public, weddings, workshops, tours etc.  It was explained by the applicant that the property would be for holding wedding events, with the potential use of a B & B with 4 or 5 rooms.  There was a general concern around the council table regarding overnight parking that would be associated with a B & B and the applicant agreed to remove the accommodation portion of the application.   Council voted unanimously to allow the rezoning back to (C3) with minor amendments to remove the accommodation use and wave fees for deficient parking spaces. 

Campbell Strategies

As reported in the past, Mayor Furniss, Mayor Braid of Georgian Bay and Mayor Young of Lake of Bays have been working diligently in an attempt to have the OPP costing model amended.  At present the three Township's pay a disproportionate amount for District OPP services rendered relative to the three towns of Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville. See - Don's Dialogue - OPP - from a year ago for an overview of the problem.  As a result of these inequities the three Townships hired Campbell Strategies to lobby at Queen's Park on their behalf.  Following a meeting this past winter Minister Lalonde of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) challenged the municipalities and the District to find a “made in Muskoka solution”, which has not occurred to date.  Mayor Furniss requested that the Township of Muskoka Lakes council approve a further $12,000.00 to be spent on Campbell Strategies.  Councillor Nishikawa indicated she could not support further spending as the District was willing to review the costing model.  Councillor Harding believed that the issue was not going to be resolved by putting a resolution on the District table suggesting that the towns would have to pay more just so that the Townships could save money.  He felt the issue should be resolved in smaller discussion groups at the District level.  Councillor Ledger said she had always been against spending the money.  The resolution to continue to lobby carried and the $12,000.00 will be spent.

(Ed Note: It is the MRA's view that although the Township has already spent $80,600.00 with Campbell Strategies, if they are able to reach a solution to the $3 million dollar yearly OPP bill, it will be money well spent.)

 

As of May 12th the Port Carling bridge was 30% complete and a

completion date of early June is hoped for. 

The bridge work in Bala was 90% with a completion date of June 7th

Peninsula Road roadwork will start May 15th and

be completed by June 21st with bike lanes installed as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

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
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