Township Watch - September 2017

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Community Update

A Community Engagement Session will be held on Thursday October 5th relating to the Port Carling Health Hub, its current status and its future. See Public Engagement Meeting Public Engagement Meeting.  Note that there is a similar meeting at Wahta on October 4th.

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare Update

Board Chair of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC), Evelyn Brown and MAHC CEO Natalie Bubela were before the committee with an update on the hospitals in Muskoka.  Ms. Brown explained that over the past few years MAHC had a balanced budget until funding changed in 2015-2016 which caused MAHC to run a deficit.    It is felt that as a multi-site hospital they are underfunded.  The government funds operating expenses, while everything else is funded by donations.  Repairs are currently required at both hospital sites in Muskoka as the buildings are aging.  In order for MAHC to provide quality healthcare they require good structures.  If a new hospital is built 80% of the rooms will be single bed for infection control.  MAHC, like everything else, needs to move forward with the times.

Ms. Bubela explained that the current two site model will not be status quo.  The two options that are being explored is that one site will be outpatient and the other site inpatient or, a centrally located     one-site facility.  There are advantages and disadvantages to renovating the current sites versus building a new hospital.  It is not just a matter of financial issues but also providing safe high quality sustainable healthcare.

If you would like to provide input, please complete MAHC survey which can be found at MAHC Survey

Villas of Lake Muskoka

A condominium agreement for the Villas of Lake Muskoka (formerly the Tamwood property) was before committee.  Staff had a difficult time with the agreement as there are many factors involved, including the District of Muskoka currently undergoing an Official Plan review.  It is felt that the lines between commercial and residential uses are getting blurred.  The condominium agreement stated:

  • units shall not constitute the unit owner's permanent or seasonal residence,
  • a definition of a residence being “a building or any part thereof that operates as a place of residence for any period of 30 cumulative calendar days or greater throughout all or any part of the calendar year”,
  • that there will be mandatory reporting of owner's usage,
  • removal of exclusive use of docking facilities by registered owners, and
  • that units must be in the rental pool for two weeks between June 15th and to September 15th.

A planner for the applicant felt the staff report had significant changes to it, specifically the 30-day limitation.  They requested a deferral to review the agreement and obtain a legal opinion.  Three private individuals spoke regarding:

  • the fact that the property is zoned commercial and the Township requires resort properties to be available for the travelling public,
  • the buyers believe they can live in these units,
  • the units are only required to be in the rental pool for 10 weeks per year,
  • loss of access for tourists, and
  • condominium agreements need to have “teeth” and be enforceable.

Committee then discussed:

  • how they cannot support someone using the property as their residence,
  • they would like to see an agreement that is consistent for all properties of this type,
  • units should be in the rental pool between July 1st to Labour Day for two weeks,
  • units should be required to be in the rental pool 12 months of the year, and
  • how usage will be enforced.

As requested by the applicant's agent, a deferral was granted.

Xplornet Communications

A representative from Xplornet Communications was present to request committee's support for a 45 metre high tri-pole communication tower at 1189 Breezy Point Road.  He explained that this tower required 45 metres in height so that it could communicate with other Xplornet towers to provide broadband internet service.  Neighbours of the proposed site voiced concerns about the location of the tower, requesting that the tower be placed in a similar location to where Bell and Rogers mono-pine towers are already located on the property.  Committee discussed with the presenter if the tower could be relocated on the property, suggesting that if the tower was moved to where the other two are currently located perhaps the height could be reduced as it would be on a higher elevation. Although the presenter was not opposed to relocating the tower, he informed the committee that the structure would be a tri-pole tower as mono-pines are extremely expensive and with the Federal funding they received it was just not possible.  A resolution to inform property owners within 1 km of the proposed tower and advertise a public meeting was read and carried.

Treasurer Reports

Treasurer, Shannon Johnson, reviewed the Development Charges Statement for 2016 explaining that there was a closing balance of $951,815.85.  A resolution to recommend that Council approve the statement was read and carried.

Ms. Johnson then reviewed the 2016 Financial Reserve Transactions explaining that total reserves had increased in 2016 to the amount of $8,949,496.  It is estimated that by the end of 2017 reserves will be down by $246,000 and Ms. Johnson recommended that 5% again be added to the capital levy.  This will allow the Township to increase and maintain Township service levels and improve and repair aging infrastructure.  By the end of 2017 the Township will be 3.3% below what is Provincially mandated for discretionary reserves.   A resolution to recommend that Council approve the reserve transactions was read and carried.

The 2016 Investment Report was then reviewed for committee, with a total of $122,715.76 being earned throughout the year.  This item was for informational purposes only.

Lastly, Ms. Johnson asked the committee to direct staff to begin preparing the 2018 Township budget.  Committee discussed that they would like departments within the Township to restrict their budgetary increases to the consumer price index.  Ms. Johnson explained that reserve contributions are based on a 10-year forecast for Capital needs and that discretionary reserves will be in a deficit position by the end of 2019.  It was recommended that the 5% capital levy be added to the budget again this year.

A tentative schedule for the 2018 budget process is:

  • Departmental development of 2018 requirements Sept/Oct 2017
  • Consolidation & Treasurer review Nov 2017
  • Presentation to finance review committee Dec 2017
  • Review by Committee of the Whole Jan 2018
  • Council adoption Feb 2018

A resolution to direct staff to prepare the 2018 was read and passed.

More in-depth information on the above four items can be found here (Budget Guidelines Budget Guidelines)

Automatic Aid Agreement with Gravenhurst Fire Department

Deputy Fire Chief Harry Baranik presented to committee an automatic aid agreement with Gravenhurst.  The agreement would permit the Township fire department to respond to structure fires in designated areas of Gravenhurst as Muskoka Lakes has the closest fire stations.  The Township would respond with two trucks for one hour and would bill Gravenhurst for the service.  This hour would allow Gravenhurst to respond to the fire.  Deputy Fire Chief Baranik explained that the north end of Ward B, Hekkla, is covered by a similar agreement with the Township of Sequin and the Town of Huntsville.  Ward A councillors were concerned that:

  • this agreement would cost the Township money,
  • the response area was large,
  • that Township is helping Gravenhurst not spend money on their fire department, and
  • that the cost to the fire department is more than what they will be compensated for.

Deputy Fire Chief Baranik explained that he had spoken to the District Chief and the volunteer fire fighters, who were in agreement to help their neighbours.  He further pointed out that by the logic of the above noted concerns, the Township should then build their own fire station in Hekkla.  It was emphasized by Councillors Ledger and McTaggart that Gravenhurst is our neighbour and if they have a fire, the Township should respond.  In an unrecorded vote, the resolution passed 6 to 3.

(Ed. Note:  It is important to note that according to Deputy Fire Chief Baranik in the last five years there has been one structure fire in the area the agreement covers, and that if it was a major structure fire the Township would respond under a mutual aid agreement anyway.)

Council - Friday, September 15th, 2017

Housekeeping By-Law

The by-law (Housekeeping ByLaw Housekeeping ByLaw) was to correct technical errors, such as typographical errors, omissions, mapping errors, inconsistency and reduce interpretations in Comprehensive Zoning By-Law 2014-14.  No submissions of objection were received following an advertisement being placed August 24th.   One area of concern that was discussed was the location of hot tubs which are currently not permitted on docks or over water.  Staff clarified that their concern is not the location of hot tubs but how the water is disposed of at the end of the season.  As Director of Planning, David Pink was not in attendance and therefor unable to answer questions regarding “habitable floor area” this portion of the by-law was excluded.  Council voted and passed the by-law.


As reported in the August Township Watch (Township Watch - August 2017) committee of the whole recommend Council post a 40 km speed limit on Scarcliffe Road.  This carried at Council.

Committee also recommended to Council that Birch Ave be posted as a no parking zone.  This recommendation was defeated at Council.

Geographic Naming Request

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry received a naming request.  The MNRF then requested the Township's input on naming the bay north of Caley's Cut on Tobin Island, the Bay of Singing Sand.  Council carried the resolution.

To preserve our wonderful water quality in Muskoka

please do not drain chemically treated hot tub water into our lakes.


The board of the MRA wishes our Canadian members

a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving.


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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