Township Watch - November 2017

     The MRA welcomes Derek Hnatiuk to his new position of Deputy Treasurer at the Township.  Mr. Hnatiuk brings with him 17 years of experience in both the public and private sectors, including the position of Assistant Treasurer in the City of Cote Saint-Luc, Quebec.

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Villas of Muskoka

A condominium agreement between the Township and the Villas of Muskoka (The Villas) was before committee.  This item had been deferred in September at the request of the applicant's agent and was returning to committee with no changes to the document - Villas of Muskoka Villas of Muskoka.  Fourteen delegates were present to speak on the topic, including the applicant's agent and legal counsel. 

Margaret Walton, planner for the applicant and Brendan Ruddick, legal counsel for the applicant explained that:

  • the project complies with the Township's Official Plan and Comprehensive Zoning By-Law and is subject to current policies,
  • the Villas were not counting on the District of Muskoka's draft Official Plan policies,
  • the resort is commercial and cannot be used as residential,
  • when the property was Tamwood Resort it had 34 units, while the Villas have 23 units.  Furthermore, except for the restaurant, the Villas have all the same amenities that Tamwood Resort had,
  • the condominium description has no impact on the use, it simply changes the type of ownership and a way of attracting investors,
  • the applicants were willing to accept the Township's conditions except the definition of a residence, and
  • their client has worked hard on this project meeting with planners from the Township and District, and they are aware that the units cannot be residences.

The remaining delegates all voiced concerned regarding the Villas which included:

  • that the Villas was not a bona fide resort,
  • that the law was clear that no residential use is allowed in “commercial zones”
  • converting resort properties to residential is short sighted as it will compromise the shoreline and water quality,
  • the language in the agreement needs to be “tightened up” so mandatory rentals reports should include names of renters, dates and rental amounts,
  • the condominium agreement should not be passed as it is contrary to Township policy,
  • that the cumulative effects on water quality due to the lack of shoreline vegetation has not been determined yet,
  • concerns regarding a private septic system, and that the condominium agreement should state that if there are issues with the septic system, those on the property must vacate,
  • the marketing makes the rental pool sound optional,
  • the fire pit will increase noise at night,
  • enforcement will be extremely hard,
  • all units should be for the traveling public and not residential,
  • sales personnel are saying that no one will enforce the rental portion of the agreement,
  • the development is the “tip of the iceberg”,
  • Section 24 of the Planning Act is clear that no by-law can be passed that does not conform with the Official Plan of the Township and District, and as such a court of law would quash the agreement,
  • the units are being sold as residential use,
  • units should be in the rental program all year, and
  • with climate change, what was appropriate in 2007, is no longer appropriate now.

Committee members then discussed the condominium agreement, stating that:

  • the Villas advertising is saying the units are cottages,
  • the Villas did not apply for any exemptions to the zoning by-law when they were built, 
  • as different legal opinions had been received, clarification needs to be obtained on what the Township is allowed to do, and
  • the issue is the marketing of the Villas as there is a difference in what committee has heard and what people are being told.

During discussions it was explained to the committee that the septic system is under the authority of the MOECC and will be monitored annually.  It was further explained that the public will have no right to appeal the condominium agreement to the Ontario Municipal Board, however could challenge the agreement in court.  Committee decided to defer the agreement until a further legal opinion was obtained.  No resolution was read.

(Editorial Note: The MRA feels it is important to clarify that Thursday's meeting was NOT for a zoning application, as some literature is saying, but for a condominium agreement.)

SEGBAY Chamber of  Commerce

The Vice President from the SEGBAY Chamber of Commerce (Southeast Georgian Bay) came to committee to request ongoing funds to help with the carrying costs for their Kiosk on highway 400 north of Barrie.  In exchange for the $1,000.00 that the Township provided them last year, the SEGBAY Chamber displayed Cranberry Festival flyers and Muskoka Lake Chamber Directory guides at their location.  It was decided that a budget consideration of $1,000.00 would be put forth during budget deliberations.

South Muskoka Memorial Hospital

The Executive Director of the South Muskoka Memorial Foundation, Colin Miller, gave a presentation on the status of capital donations.  Mr. Miller explained that the hospital does not receive funding from the Province for equipment, but simply for their operating budget.  Although the foundation has raised the necessary funds for the electronic patient records and diagnostic imagining, they still require a further 1 million dollars.  In the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, the Township matched donations of its residents up to $9000.00.  Mr. Miller was hoping that the Township would be willing to consider the hospital foundation again.  The committee agreed that everyone needs the hospital and the request will be put forth during budget deliberations.

Safe Quiet Lakes

Frances Carmichael from Safe Quiet Lakes presented their 2017 survey results to the committee.   Their first survey done in 2013 had 2291 respondents with 14 association partners, while the survey done this past spring had 3291 respondents with 25 + association partners.   To review the entire presentation and survey results please click here -Safe Quiet Lakes Safe Quiet Lakes

Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commence

General manager to the Chamber, Norah Fountain, provided the committee with an update of their activities this past year.   The Chamber held many events throughout the year for the benefit of the residents of Muskoka Lakes.  A full list of which can be found here - Chamber ChamberMs Fountain proudly told the committee that the Chamber bid and won the honour of holding the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) Annual General Meeting in May 2019 in Minett.  This event will be attended by 200 delegates from across Ontario, the Premier and Opposition leaders.  In April 2018, the Chamber will attend the OCC Convention in Hamilton and promote Muskoka for the 2019 convention. The chamber requested a 2018 budget consideration totally $48,000.00, which broken down is $20,000.00 to help the Chamber relocate the visitors' centre in Port Carling, $23,000.00 for their ongoing partnership with the Township, and $5,000.00 to help with the presentation at the Hamilton Convention.

(Editorial Note: The MRA congratulates the Chamber on winning the Annual General Meeting May 2019 bid.)

Service Level Review Survey

The Township held two service level review meetings this past summer regarding significant infrastructure challenges which they will be facing in the coming years.  These meetings were reported on in the July (Township Watch - July 2017) and August (Township Watch - August 2017) Township Watches.  CAO, Steve McDonald, informed the committee that the online survey, which was available from July until the end of September, elicited 486 responses.  Results showed that 82% of respondents felt that they received fair, good or excellent value for their taxes.  While 14% felt they received poor value and 4% were undecided.  Overall the Township is doing a good job of getting value for the dollars that they spend.  A copy of the full survey results can be found here - .Service Level Review Service Level Review This item was for information purposes and no resolution was read.

Council - Friday, November 17th, 2017

Appointment of Committee of Adjustment Members

As per the Planning Act, members of the Committee of Adjustment must be appointed on a year basis.  A resolution was read and carried to reappointment previous members, which include Councillors Baranik and Edwards.

Short Term Accommodation Steering Committee

As reported in the October Township Watch (Township Watch - October 2017) members of Committee of the Whole voted to have staff establish a steering committee to review the draft Short-Term Accommodation By-Law that was presented to the committee.   Director of Planning, David Pink, asked Council if the steering committee was to move forward and simply review the draft by-law, or were they to start from the beginning.  Although one councillor requested that the by-law continue to be drafted from Blue Mountains rental by-law, others felt the problems could be addressed through current by-laws.  It was determined that the steering committee would look at the draft by-law and assess if it could be expanded, or perhaps committee would have other ideas.  Council voted to establish a committee of eleven individuals, including Councillors Baranik, Edwards and Hayes, Mayor Furniss, as well as five private citizens and the Director of Planning and the Township's By-Law officer.

(Editorial Note: As we reported last month a board member from the MRA has been invited to sit on the committee.  If  our members have any concerns, we encourage you to submit them to the MRA and we will bring them forward to the steering committee.)

Revised Meeting Schedule

Staff felt that with the office being closed for the Christmas holidays so close to the regular meeting week in January that they would have difficulty preparing the necessary minutes, reports and agendas.  Council voted to reschedule the meetings to:

  • Council - Friday, January 12th , 2018
  • Committee of the Whole - Tuesday, January 16th, 2018
  • Committee of Adjustment - Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

2018 Budget Meeting Schedule

Council voted to accept the 2018 Budget meeting schedule, as follows:

  • Special Committee of the Whole - Wednesday, January 24th, 2018 at 9 AM to introduce the budget
  • Special Council Meeting - Thursday, February 1st, 2018 at 7 PM to receive public input
  • Special Committee of the Whole - Thursday, February 8th, 2018 for budget deliberation
  • Regular Council - Friday, February 16th, 2018 to approve the 2018 budget.


The MRA wishes our American members a happy

and safe Thanksgiving.


Mayor Furniss recently published a new article on Don's Dialogues

on Resort Commercial Properties & Redevelopment which you can read here

(Don's Dialogues - Resorts)


Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

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Apr 11, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
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Apr 12, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
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