Township Watch - October 2016

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, October 13, 2016

Skating Trail at Hanna Park

A private citizen came before committee to volunteer her and her husband's time to construct a skating trail at Hanna Park this coming winter.  There would be a small rink on the basketball court as well as a skating trail that would follow the walking trail.   Director of Public Works, Roger Young, informed committee that although there will be some direct costs and staff time involved, Public Works thought it was a “great idea” and had no objections.  Although there was support from committee members, Mr. Young was requested to provide a further staff report.  Councillor Edwards suggested that perhaps students in need of their community services hours could be used to clear the rink of snow.

Council - Friday, October 14, 2016

Delegation by Councillor Nishikawa

The council meeting began with Councillor Nishikawa thanking the Mayor for the opportunity to address Council and the public.  Councillor Nishikawa then explained that she had a letter that she wished to read.  Mayor Furniss immediately interjected stating that he could not allow her to read the letter, which was from Councillor Nishikawa's lawyer.  After a brief and loud discussion about whether or not Councillor Nishikawa could read the letter, and “Point of Order” being called on two councillors.  Mayor Furniss stated that there was a difference of opinion between what Councillor Nishikawa's counsel advised and what the Township of Muskoka Lakes counsel advised in this instance.  When it was determined that the letter was not going to be read in open session, Councillor Nishikawa stated she would send it to the press and “put it in the paper”.

Jewish Theological Society of Canada

Camp Ramah, located on Skeleton Lake, had a planning application before Council to remove 11 staff cabins and replace them with a 2981 square foot staff housing building.  Previously the application had been before Council earlier this summer when neighbours voiced concerns.  The applicant heard that the two storey building was not in character with the area and that the front door faced directly towards a neighbouring property.  With these concerns in mind, a new application for a single storey building, rotated so that staff coming and going would not disturb the neighbours was brought forward.  A representative for the camp stated that plantings would be put along the property line on Bert Sims Road, and that a new parking lot was being constructed so staff would not park along Bert Sims Road.  After a brief discussion the resolution was read and passed unanimously.

Road Closures

Resolutions were read to temporarily close Maple Ave. and Victoria St. as well as portions of Burgess Ave. and River St for the Trek to Bethlehem on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016.  As well as River St. and Maple Ave for the Bala Santa Claus Parade on Saturday, November 12th, 2016.

Organization Review

As part of the Strategic Plan that was adopted by the new Council, an Organization Review was  undertaken.  A consultant was hired and the report that was presented to the Committee of the Whole in August and re-discussed in September, and that was now before Council and was aligned with the Strategic Plan.  CAO, Steve McDonald, explained to Council that it was important to recognize staff as a critical asset for the Township.  The Township has a permanent work force of 64 individuals, which is not out of line with other municipalities of the same size, it may actually be low.  Mr. McDonald reviewed overtime hours, increased and downloaded duties on staff and increased work load on staff.  Mr. McDonald further explained that the four staff positions suggested in phase one of the organizational review before Council had begun with the 2016 budget and that there was a consensus, at least at the staff level, that the positions would be confirmed.   CAO McDonald emphasized that there are not multiple levels of management at the Township offices and over the years the work load has increased.  It is important to be fair to Township employees and not expect them to constantly work overtime.

Phase one of the organization review  (Organizational Review Organizational Review ) recommended that the Township create:

  1. a Specialist, Human Resources and Health/Safety position,
  2. a permanent full time By-Law Enforcement Officer,
  3. a Specialist, Communications and Economic Development position, and
  4. a full-time Community Centre Assistant position. 

In recorded votes positions 1, 3 and 4 passed unanimously.  Position 2 carried with a vote of 8 to 1.

Community Services Programs

Commissioner of Community Services at the District of Muskoka, Rick Williams and District Councillor and Community Services Committee Chair, Steve Clement presented to Council which community services are available in the District of Muskoka, including the Township of Muskoka Lakes.  Councillor Clement reported that not all residents in the Township of Muskoka Lakes are “well to do” and that there is a high percentage of seniors and a substantial amount of only seasonal work available.  Commissioner Williams explained that within the District of Muskoka 31% of the population are in need of assistance and it is forecast that over the next decade that number will rise to 42%.  A full review of the presentation can be found (Community Services Review Community Services Review ).  This presentation was for informational purposes and no resolution was read.

Resolutions from Closed Session

As personal matters affecting individuals are discussed in closed session, agenda items 8. n. a by-law to amend the composition of the Parks and Trails Committee and 10. b. consideration of a resolution to revise the Committee of the Whole's rotating Chair Schedule were taken into closed session.  Once Council returned to open session a by-law removing two members of the public and Councillor Nishikawa from Parks and Trails Committee was read.  In a recorded vote, the by-law carried 5 to 4, with Councillor Nishikawa abstaining, which is equivalent to a no vote. 

Council then discussed deferring the resolution to revise the COW rotating chair position.  Some councillors felt that the matter was “not pressing” as it may need to be revised in the coming months with “new information” coming forward.  Councillor Currie requested that Councillor Nishikawa be permitted to read the letter from her legal counsel as it was relevant to discussion before Council.  Mayor Furniss reiterated that the letter spoke of “potential litigation” and could not be read in open session.  A resolution to remove Councillor Nishikawa from the rotating chair of Committee of the Whole was read.  In a recorded vote the resolution passed 5 to 4, with Councillor Nishikawa voting against it.


It is unfortunate that the MRA must once again mention that councillors need to remember to be polite and respectful towards each other while at the Council and Committee table.

Furthermore, councillors should not need to be reminded that when “Point of Order” is called they should stop speaking until the Chair indicates that they may continue to do so.


Mark your calendars:

Muskoka Lakes Christmas Market  - Saturday, November 5th 

Bala Santa Claus Parade -  Saturday, November 12th

Port Carling Santa Claus Parade - Saturday, November 19th

Trek to Bethlehem - Saturday, December 3rd


Just a reminder that as of October 31st,  garbage collection

goes onto a winter by-weekly schedule.

Recycle and Compost remains weekly.


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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