Township Watch - November 2016

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Touchstone on Lake Muskoka Inc.

This development on Lake Muskoka was before the committee for a change in ownership.  Units that have already been built will be known as Condo 66, while future development will be knows as Mist Opportunities.  The companies will function as one development.  Planner for Mist Opportunities told those in attendance that the development had recently received the necessary approvals from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to begin their new sewer treatment plant. 

North Bala Falls Small Hydro Project

CAO, Steve McDonald, explained to committee that the Bala Falls Working Committee had met in September regarding a heritage easement on Portage Landing.  With consultation with the Director of Planning and the Fire Chief, Mr. McDonald was presenting the recommendations that were made -Hydro Recommendations Hydro Recommendations

Councillor Currie, who is a member of the working committee, had several concerns which he outlined for the committee:

  • He felt that the minutes did not reflect what had been said at the meeting,
  • That the “use ability” of the portage route was still up in the air,
  • That Township by-laws were being circumvented i.e.: the dark sky by-law, noise by-law,
  • That a public meeting where people can ask questions of Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) representatives be held.  He was voted down 4 to 1, and
  • That they are being asked to “rush something through Council”.

Director of Planning, David Pink, explained that the heritage easement had been drafted by the heritage consultants and reviewed by the Township solicitor.  The heritage easement was consistent with the lease between the Township and SREL.  To read the Heritage Easement Agreement click here - Pages 66 to 80.  Stevens Burgess Architects report can be found here - Pages 81 to 122.

During discussions at the table it was stated that:

  • No other construction projects are required to hold public meetings,
  • Lighting at construction projects fall outside of the dark sky by-law,
  • The heritage consultant says that the work is exempt from the heritage district,
  • The finished project and parkette at Portage Landing will be an improvement to the area, and
  • Consultation was to take place between SREL and Camps Crossroad and Pine Crest.

Mr. Belerique, representing SREL, who was in the audience, clarified that:

  • They have contacted camps Crossroads and Pine Crest,
  • The “settling tanks” will be located in the Shield Parking lot,
  • No diesel pumps will be used as they will be electrical pumps submerged in wells,
  • The final lighting on the hydro plant will be dark sky compliant,
  • The lighting on the construction site is for security reasons, and
  • A public information meeting will be held before construction starts.

Three resolutions were read:

  1. To approve the necessary by-laws in accordance with the covenants contained in the lease agreement between the Township and SREL,
  2. That “a Heritage conservation easement be entered into” between the Township and SREL,
  3. That a public open house be held in Bala to review the architects report.

In recorded votes, the resolutions passed 7 to 1 with Councillor Currie voting against each one. (Councillors Kruckel and Nishikawa were absent from the meeting).


Both the Port Carling Boatworks and Windermere House are listed on the Township heritage registry but to date have not been designated.  As such, if a demolition permit is applied for the Township has 60 days to begin the process to designate the sites.  Windermere House requested permission to demolish a portion of their staff housing structure and move a portion in order to install a new septic system.  The newly appointed heritage committee agreed with the application.  Although the heritage committee has not met regarding the Port Carling Boatworks structure there was a healthy discussion via email and staff recommended deferral of the application until the committee could discuss the request further. 

A representative for the owners of the Boatworks explained that during this past summer rain water had pooled on the roof of the structure and caused a portion of the roof to collapse.  The structure has been deemed to be unsafe and could possibly collapse under the weight of snow this winter.  Although drawings were shown of how the structure would be rebuilt, with the only change appearing to be widening of the boat slips, once the structure is removed neither the heritage committee nor the Township would have any say on how the new structure should look.  After discussing the Boatworks committee voted to defer the application so that it could be discussed by the heritage committee and a list of heritage attributes could be compiled. 

Clear Lake Road Alternate Route Study

With complaints about safety due to the volume and speed of vehicular traffic on Clear Lake Road, the Township public works department met with the Clear Lake Road Committee to discuss alternatives.   Director of Public Works, Roger Young, explained to the committee that four alternative routes were defined ranging in cost from $1,540,000.00 to $5,780,000.00, two of which would either encroach or go through “wetlands”.  The Clear Lake Road Committee wished to have alternative route two -Clear Lake Clear Lake Road - that would cost $4,730,000.00.

Mr. Young further explained to the committee that:

  • The Clear Lake Road Committee did not represent all property owners on the road,
  • The cost of this alternate route was not in the interest of all the taxpayers of the Township,
  • The totals roads budget in 2016 was $900,000.00 to $1,200,000.00,
  • The roads budget is underfunded by 50% to 60%, and
  • As such it was recommended that the alternate route was not warranted.

Two private citizens made presentations explaining that:

  • Their water supply would be at risk if a road was developed through the wetlands,
  • Road safety,
  • YMCA Camp Pine Crest uses the road but does not pay taxes,
  • The volume of traffic that goes to the YMCA camp on weekends increases dramatically,
  • They do not understand why the financial burden is on the municipality and taxpayers but not the camp as well, and
  • The property owners were not asking for a road to be built this year but to plan for it.

The committee supported staff's recommendation that any alternative route was not warranted.

Hanna Park Winter Skating Rink/Trail

As was reported in the October 2016 Township Watch (Township Watch - October 2016) staff were requested to return to committee with a more detailed report on a potential skating trail in Hanna Park.  Director of Public Works, Roger Young, stated although public works was supportive of the initiative, the Township would need to establish rules and regulations which the volunteer committee would be required to follow.  A convener would need to be appointed, daily inspections of the rink would be required, any incidents would have to be reported to the Township signage would be required and volunteers would need to be screened and require health & safety training.  Mr. Young recommended that the skating trail be developed and committee voted in favour of doing so.

Request for Reimbursement of Costs - Brent vs Nishikawa

Former councillor Ron Brent was before committee to request that the Township insurance policy or the Township cover the portion of his legal fees that were not granted by the judge in his lawsuit against Councillor Nishikawa.  Mr. Brent explained that he had a cost deficit of $9,422.00.  It was stated that the Township insurance policy was available to “defend” councillors and not to aid someone with an “offensive” action. This was followed by a suggestion that Mr. Brent was defending himself when he launched the lawsuit and if the offending councillor had just apologized it would have been a different situation.  CAO McDonald requested the opportunity to discuss the situation with the Township solicitor and return with more information.  There was no resolution read.

Farmers' Markets

Requests were received by the Township from both the Bala and Port Carling Farmers Markets to use the parks again in 2017.  The Bala Farmers Market has requested the use of Jaspen Park again from 7 AM to 3 PM on Mondays between June 26th and September 4th, 2017.  While the Port Carling Farmers Market wish to again set up in Hanna Park from 7 AM to 3 PM on Thursdays in 2017 from June 29th and August 31st.  Committee voted to support both resolutions.

Council - Thursday, November 18th, 2016

Mayors Golf Tournament

The Mayors golf tournament, which was held on September 12, 2016, raised over $35,000.00 this year.  Proceeds from the event went to the Port Carling and Bala Curling Clubs, who were both presented cheques in the amount of $17,765.00 at the Council meeting.  On the day of the golf tournament there was a 50/50 draw with the proceeds to be donated to the West Muskoka Food Bank.  As the winner of the draw donated his winnings back, the West Muskoka Food Bank was presented with a cheque in the amount of $1,160.00 at the meeting.  Mayor Furniss thanked those who organized the event, the volunteers, those who donated to the silent auction, hole sponsors as well as Ken Fowler Enterprises who had donated the use of the Rock Golf Course.

Butterfly Lake Resort Inc.

The new owners of Butterfly Lake Resort, an 89 unit tent and trailer park on Butterfly Lake, were before council with an application to place “park model” trailers for permanent use on their property.  These units would be installed as the owners wish to make improvements to the property as they replace older trailers and improve the waterfront area.   After discussing many components of the application, the application was deferred at the request of the District of Muskoka.  A full report on the project can be found here. - Pages 33 to 197

Microbrewery in Torrance

Developer and local resident, Greg Knight presented to council his plans to establish a microbrewery and year-round restaurant in Torrance.  One of council's and neighbour's main concerns with the application was the servicing for the brewery.  It was explained that not only was Mr. Knight a licensed septic installer himself, but a maintenance agreement would be signed when the servicing was installed and it would be monitored by a third party.  The servicing will also fall under the Ontario Building Code and will be monitored by the Township building inspectors.  The resolution was read and carried with none opposed.  The complete application can be found here - Pages 98 to 127.

Ward Boundaries/Council Composition Review

Township Clerk, Cheryl Mortimer, informed Council that three requests for proposal (RFP) had been received to complete a Ward Boundary and Council Composition Review in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.  All three submissions were reviewed by Ms. Mortimer and CAO McDonald.  Cost implications for the review ranged from $19,960.00 to $60,900.00.  Although this review initially passed at Committee of the Whole in June 2016 and the draft “terms of reference” were accepted by Council in September 2016, during discussions it became apparent that that was no longer the case.  Councillors felt:

  • It is “an awful lot of money to spend on something that was not broken”,
  • That these costs were just the tip of the iceberg,
  • That this was a big investment in a short period of time,
  • That no matter where you live there are boundaries, and
  • That what makes council effective is how they interact with each other not where boundaries are located.

Mayor Furniss explained that a boundary review had not been undertaken in 45 years and council owed it to the electorate to review it.  He further explained that the Province was undertaking a review of upper tier municipalities and they should be proactive with their own review. 

The resolution to accept the RFP was defeated in a recorded vote of 6 to 4.

By-Law to Establish and Regulate a Fire Department

This by-law was passed at Committee of the Whole in October and was before Council to be ratified.

Chief Hayes explained that the by-law that was before Council incorporated input from Council as well as the Township solicitor.

Chief Hayes informed Council that he did not take the discussions about the by-law personally, but it was council's job to “set the level of service” that the fire department provides for the Township.

Council reviewed the by-law -Fire Department Fire Department - in depth and held discussions on:

  • The wording of the by-law,
  • Comparing the by-law to Huntsville's by-law,
  • Rates of pay for the fire fighters as some councillors wanted to know what volunteer fire fighters were being paid,
  • Deputy Fire Chief general responsibilities,
  • Frequency of replacing fire equipment,
  • What are cost savings if fire trucks are not replaced every 15 years, and
  • What difference does level of services make to insurance coverage.

Chief Hayes explained to Council that there are many complexities with insurance coverage.  Insurance companies look at the Township's ability to fight fires.  For example having a tanker truck at your local fire station may help with your ratings.  Chief Hayes stated that he looks at things through a “lifesaving mode”.  He needs to get personnel with water to a scene until a secondary truck arrives or water is pumped from a secondary water source, be that a lake or Township fire hydrant.

Following these discussions, Councillor Harding stated that he has heard that Council “sets the level of service” for the fire department but he does not know what choices of service he has.  CAO McDonald and Chief Hayes were asked to provide council with some level of understanding of the level of service that is provided by the fire department. For example, what would the cost savings be if a “lower level” of service was provided?

The by-law was approved as amended in a recorded vote of 7 to 3.


The MRA is pleased to see Council was able, for the most part, to work as a more cohesive unit this session of meetings.



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