Following a request for a report on complaints regarding short term rentals at the March Committee of the Whole meeting, CAO Steve McDonald reported to committee that seven complaints had been lodged with the Township in 2016. Some councillors felt that these numbers were incorrect as they had personally attended incidents or called in complaints more than seven times - Rentals. CAO McDonald explained that in order to properly track complaints, the complaints must be registered with the Township. If there is a problem, a complaint must be registered with the by-law officer or with the Township answering service after hours. A by-law officer will respond after hours if there is a health and safety matter or an emergency.
Some members of the committee discussed that last summer's program of “Educate and Enforce” was not successful. It was suggested that tickets be issued to property owners not the renters when complaints are filed. If the tickets go unpaid, the fines could be put against the property tax bill. Not all councillors are in favour of banning short term rentals. Director of Planning, David Pink, explained that even if a by-law was passed the properties that are currently used as short term rentals would be “legal non-complying”. Mr. Pink stated that extensive public outreach would be required prior to passing a by-law as he did not feel the public will be in favour of it. This item was on the agenda for informational purposes only.
A request was received by the Township Public Works Department to lower the speed limit on Muskoka Road 38 just west of Bala from 80 km to 50 km to enhance pedestrian safety. Councillor Harding, who is the chair of the Public Works and Engineering committee at the District, explained that the District would most likely not recommend a 30 km speed reduction but a 20 km reduction. A resolution to request that the District extend the 50 km zone was read and carried.
A presentation was made by Jeff Hathaway on resolving road mortality of turtles in Muskoka and the START (Saving Turtles at Risk Today) program. It was explained that road mortality is a huge problem for turtles and in the past cages were put over turtle eggs that were laid beside roadways to keep the eggs from being run over or eaten by predators. The program now digs up turtle eggs and incubates them until it is time to release the newly hatched. In 2016, they released 4000 baby turtles back into the wild. Due to survival of the fittest turtle mortality is not going to be solved by releasing baby turtles, but by protecting the adult population. Turtles can live one to two centuries.
If you see a turtle laying eggs please call the Turtle Hotline at 705-955-4284. A team will be dispatched to your location to dig up the eggs.
Treasurer, Shannon Johnson, explained to the committee that the Township does not currently have a receivable policy in place. Having such a policy would set guidelines and ensure that consistent procedure was followed in:
Once a bill is issued, the terms of payment are 30 days after which it is considered to be in arrears and interest rates consistent with interest on outstanding property taxes would apply. At 60 days a letter from the Treasurer would be issued explaining that if the bill is not settled, or arrangements are not made, within 30 days of the date of the letter the account would be sent to collection. After the 90 day period, if payment has not been received the Township may either send the unpaid bill to a collection agency or transfer that balance, including accrued interest, to the debtor's property tax bill. A full report can be read here - Accounts Receivable
Not all Councillors agreed with this policy stating that 90 days was not sufficient time frame. While others felt that in the business world 90 days was a “trigger”, that a responsible person would contact the Township and make arrangements to pay the bill, and that this was protection for the rest of the Township.
The resolution was read and passed 4 to 2.
Inspector Ed Medved of the Ontario Provincial Police Bracebridge detachment was before Council with a policing update on how things have been going and where they hope to proceed. He explained that the OPP were committed to improvements and were responsible for public safety. They follow a priority list that Inspector Medved referred to as the three E's - Engagement, Education and Enforcement, with an ultimate goal of safety. On the “crime front” Inspector Medved spoke about:
Inspector Medved then explained that on roadways, waterways and trails the four main problems are:
It was unfortunate to hear Inspector Medved report that education does not seem to be having an impact on distracted driving.
The OPP continue to receive calls for service where mental health issues are apparent and have been involved in community immobilization where they bring appropriate agencies together.
Council members thanked Inspector Medved for his service to the Township of Muskoka Lakes. After 32 years of service Inspector Medved is retiring from the OPP at the end of April.
During a report regarding public works tenders on winter sand, Director of Public Works, Roger Young, reported that after consultations with other municipalities public works had decreased the amount of salt that they add to road sand from 3% to 1.75%. This not only saved the Township $30,000.00 but also reduced the amount of salt run off that entered into our waterways. Mr. Young emphasized that although the Township only puts sand on Township roads, the District of Muskoka does use salt on roadways.
It is disconcerting that when the Chair of the Committee of the Whole meeting did not allow a councillor to ask questions of a presenter as they were not relevant to the meeting, that the councillor loudly stated “This is ridiculous”. Councillors should remain on topic to allow meetings to run efficiently.
The MRA thanks OPP Inspector Medved for his years of service and
wishes him all the best in his future endeavours.
Do not forget that the Muskoka Watershed Conference - 50 Shades of Green
all about algae is being held on May 12th.
To sign up please visit - www.muskokawatershed.org
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