Township Watch - August 2017

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - Committee of the Whole

As reported in the July Township Watch -   Township Watch - July 2017 - the second public meeting on service level reviews took place this cycle of council.  Mayor Furniss introduced the agenda item explaining that public input was required for long term budget forecasting as infrastructure needs (roads, arenas, boat ramps, bridges, etc.) are approaching their end of life cycles and will require expensive repairs in the near future.   Mayor Furniss explained that information received would be important for the 2018 budget deliberations and reminded everyone that the online survey - Service Level Review Survey - would be open until September 29th, 2017.

Treasurer, Shannon Johnson, gave a similar presentation as in July with added information on the fire department and roads, as she had been requested to provide - 1708 - Service Level Review Service Level Review Presentation. Ms. Johnson explained that the 10 year capital forecast showed a requirement of 46 million dollars over the next 10 years.  Although it is anticipated that grants from the Federal and Provincial governments will cover 41% of the funding required, the remainder for infrastructure repairs needs to come from Township reserves.  There are currently insufficient funds in reserves, nor are the reserves been funded at a rate to cover these costs.  It was explained that for every $1.00 collected by the Township only 18 cents remains in the Township, with 51 cents being paid to the District of Muskoka and 31 cents going towards education.  As requested at the July meeting, Ms. Johnson included more in-depth information regarding fire coverage from each station.  She went on to explain how many properties are within eight kilometres of a fire station.  This is important as the property owner “MAY” receive a discount on their homeowners insurance as the fire department has “Superior Tanker Shuttle” accreditation.  Ms. Johnson also explained how station coverage overlaps.  Councillor Currie felt that Ms. Johnson's presentation regarding the fire department did not have much in the way of  facts and felt she should start again with more concrete information.  Councillor Edwards suggested that property owners check with their insurance agents and stated that his concern was public safety.

Director of Public Works, Roger Young, explained that committee could consider “de-paving” roads and returning to gravel surfaces.   This would not be appropriate on roads with slopes as the gravel would wash away, but if council desired, Public Works would examine each road section to see where it could/would be appropriate. 

The discussion was then opened to the public, where six individuals provided their comments as follows:

  • that council/committee is a “team machine” and need to work together,
  • Council needs to stop providing free use of the community centres when funds are needed,
  • reduce the council composition,
  • if council was considering closing a fire station, they should look at the surrounding area and its potential to become ablaze,
  • take a good look at the Township's revenue stream,
  • close some community centres and provide services in others,
  • sell shore road allowances to property owners who are the ones enjoying use of the lands anyway,
  • negotiate with the District of Muskoka to reduce the Township's share of 51 cents on the dollar,
  • that community centres were the cornerstone of communities and should not be closed, and
  • that the fire halls are essential services and integral parts of the community for both mainlanders and islanders.

Editorial Note:  The MRA was pleased to see several members of the Township senior staff present to show support to Treasurer Johnson.

Ferndale Fun Inc.

A site plan approval application was in front of committee for a 2,500-square foot spa building on the corporate resort property.  The single story building will be built with a portion below grade, setback 70 feet and 10 feet high.  The resolution was read and carried with no discussion on the subject by committee.

Leonard Lake Stakeholders' Association

Mark Scarrow, a private citizen, presented on behalf of the Leonard Lake Stakeholders' Association on the health of Leonard Lake.  Mr. Scarrow explained that Leonard Lake is a small lake with 133 seasonal residents and 18 permanent residents on it.  In past years the Association has spent approximately $4,000.00 yearly on their lake health but this year are spending $12,000.00 to $14,000.00 which they raised through donations.  Although their water quality is declining, the District of Muskoka's Official Plan 45 will remove Leonard Lake's status of “over threshold”.  The Association was at committee to “ask” that Township staff work with them to develop a water quality and health plan and to promote responsible and sustainable development.  Committee suggested that the Association attend the District of Muskoka meetings regarding their Official Plan and that the “expertise” on this matter lies with the Muskoka Watershed Council not Township staff.

2016 Audited Financial Statements

Nicole White, from BDO Dunwoody Accountants, informed the committee that 2016 had been a “smooth audit” and she was presenting a “clean opinion”.  The Township's Consolidated Financial Statements for the year ending December 31, 2017 can be found here - 1708 - TML Financial Statements.pdf TML Financial Statements

2017 Financial Report - 2nd Quarter

Treasurer, Shannon Johnson, stated that as of June 30th, 2017 the Township was within the 2017 budget.  At the half way point of the year there was 58.5% of the budget remaining.  A breakdown of expenses by department, category and capital expenditures can be found here - 1708 - TML Financial Report.pdf TML Financial Report  This item was for informational purposes only and no resolution was read.  

Editorial Note:  The MRA is pleased to see the Township working under budget in the first two quarters of the year.

Heritage Tax Relief Program

Director of Planning, David Pink, informed the committee that the Heritage Committee had met and was recommending a 40% tax relief for heritage structures.  This is the highest amount allowed under the Planning Act.  The Province of Ontario must meet their portion of the education tax, whereas the District of Muskoka is not required to, but it is hoped that they will give relief as well.  Mr. Pink explained that the Heritage Committee decided that the onus should be on the property owner to prove that their property should be designated, why it meets the “four tests” and provide background information.   There will be an application fee of $100.00 and a maintenance agreement which the property owner must enter into and register on title to ensure upkeep on the property.  It was emphasized that only portions of the property that are deemed historical would be given a tax relief and not the entire property.  During discussions at the committee table it was suggested that property owners should only be eligible for one grant, be it Provincial or Municipal, per property.   The resolution was read, carried and must now be ratified by Council in September.

Scarcliffe Road - Posted Travel Speed

A request, via petition, was made to have Scarcliffe Road posted with a speed limit.  As the road is currently unposted the speed limit is 80km/hour.  The petition asked for a speed limit of 40km/hour with consideration to lower it to 30km/hour.  Committee discussed the request and passed a resolution to post 40km on the road.  The resolution must be ratified by Council in September.

Birch Avenue - No Parking Designation

The Township was made aware that parking on both sides of Birch Avenue in Port Carling has become an issue.  Public Works recommended to committee to have the road posted as a no parking and tow away zone.  This is a public safety issue as emergency vehicles are not able to pass.  After a brief discussion committee voted to post Birch Avenue as a No Parking zone.  The resolution passed and must now be ratified at Council in September.

Downtown Enhancement Project

Communication & Economic Development Specialist, Corey Moore, presented plans to committee to enhance downtown Port Carling and Bala according to the Township Strategic Plan.  This endeavour to make the downtown cores year-round hubs will take place with support from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMFRA).  Two small working groups comprised of staff and private citizens will collect data and provide ongoing leadership, along with support from the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce.  This report was for informational purposes only and can be found here - 1708 - Downtown Enhancement.pdf Downtown Enhancement

Friday, August 18, 2017 - Council

The Council meeting began with Deputy Mayor Jean-Ann Baranick presenting a cheque to Hospice Muskoka - Andy's House, for monies raised at the 19th Mayor's Golf Classic this past June.  Deputy Mayor Baranick stated that monies raised this year are the highest amount to date.  Hospice Muskoka received an overwhelming $59,186.72.  Mary Grady, Chair of the Board of Directors for Hospice Muskoka thanked all who were involved in the event.  Ms. Grady informed those present that at a meeting the previous night Andy's House had received pledges from Brock Napier - $250,000.00, the Panikkar Family Foundation - $250,000.00, and that Mr. Bob Potts had three anonymous donors in the amounts of $150,000.00, $100,000.00 and $35,000.00.    With these monies Andy's House has a total of $1.7 million dollars in committed funding with a goal of $2.5 million.

The council meeting had a full agenda of planning applications.  As the MRA does not usually speak on individual planning applications, we would just like to say that in our opinion the meeting was very well run and efficient.


The MRA thanks everyone who attended our AGM

last month.  The West Muskoka Food Bank was very grateful

for the donations we collected at that event.  Therefore, we must thank our

generous members for their kind contributions.


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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