Township Watch - April 2016


Planning - Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Bruce Wilson Holdings Inc.

An agent from Greystone Engineering, representing Bruce Wilson Holdings Inc., the owners of the Port Carling Tim Horton's restaurant, was before the Planning Committee to request that their site plan agreement be amended to include a change in design and elevation of the building.  The design that was originally brought to Council had come from the head office and was a “standard design”.  According to the agent the new design is less urban and more suited for Muskoka.  The amended site plan was moved forward to Council on Friday, April 15th and passed unanimously.

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Muskoka Conservancy

Scott Young, executive director for the Muskoka Conservancy spoke about how the Muskoka Conservancy helps inspire caring for the environment through outdoor experiences.  The Conservancy works with private property owners to establish Nature Reserves or Conservation Easements.  To date they have 36 protected properties that cover 2340 acres of land, 34,375 feet of waterfront and 416.76 acres of wetlands. They recognize that Muskoka is a place for people and one of their messages is about the required balance between “critters/nature” and people.  The Conservancy offers  programs in shoreline stewardship, healthy forests, re-naturalization projects, nature quests, a little sprout eco-club, a photo contest and a native plant sale.  The full presentation and wonderful pictures can be found in the agenda package by clicking here. (1604 - COW Conservancy) starting at page 13.

Bala Farmer's Market

A member of the volunteer board of the Bala Farmer's Market was in front of the Committee to request the use of Jaspen Park in Bala for the 2016 Farmer's Market.  Committee voted to allow this use on Mondays from June 20th to August 29th from 7 AM to 3 PM.  The market will be open from 9 AM to 2 PM.

2015 Annual Report for Emergency Services

According to a report presented to the Committee by Fire Chief Hayes the Township's volunteer fire department responded to 534 calls in 2015.  The breakdown of the calls is as follows:

  • 33 property fires with damage totaling $5,633,300.00, 14 of which were structural
  • 45 rescue calls
  • 49 public hazard calls
  • 151 medical calls
  • 130 alarm systems calls
  • Various other types of calls.

Unfortunately, the department also responds to a number of false calls as well.  Each property owner is allowed one false call on a rotating 12 months basis.  If there is a second false call the property owner is billed $350.00.  For any further calls there is a $400.00 charge for each apparatus that responds to the call.

Council - Friday, April 15th, 2016

The Cove Marina

A planning application was before Council to lengthen the marina docks to 298.6 feet.  A similar application for dock lengths of 275 feet had been deferred in June 2015 with a request that the marina owners and neighbours see if a compromise could be reached between them.  While the maximum dock length is 66 feet, the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law does allow marina applications to be dealt with on a case by case basis.  Staff informed Council that 110 submissions had been received with 74 in support of the expansion and 36 opposed.

Points in support of the application from written submissions and those in attendance were:

  • The application was good planning and conformed to the Official Plan,
  •  Lake Joseph is under serviced by marinas,
  •  Multiple properties currently share slips,
  • The owners are excellent operators and good neighbours,
  • Island cottage values are dependent on their owners being able to access the cottage,
  • The marina is essential,
  • Expansion is very much needed and
  • The docks will be safer.

While points in opposition from written submissions and those in attendance were:

  • There are issues with boating capacity,
  • Boat wakes are impacting the bay,
  • There are safety concerns while swimming,
  • Boat traffic has increased steadily over the years,
  • Property values will decrease if expansion is allowed,
  • The plan is not compatible with the Official Plan nor is it small scale and
  • Loss of enjoyment of property.

The owners agent explained that Transport Canada has the final decision on boating issues.  The marina will be required to lease land under water from the MNRF and that the golf course nearby is part of the community and is allowed parking.  It was explained that in August 2015 the marina held an open house with expansion plans on display.  After much discussion, many questions and a recess so councillors could speak to those in attendance, the resolution to amend the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law to allow the docks was given first and second reading as Council agreed in principle.  Third reading was withheld and a Special Council meeting may be called to pass the by-law.

Use of ATV/ORV/UTV's on Township Roads

OPP Inspector Medved was in attendance at the Council meeting to answer councillors questions regarding the by-law pertaining to the use of ATV/ORV/UTV's on township roads.  The proposed by-law was originally discussed at the Committee of the Whole meeting in January (January 2016 - Township Watch), as well as the March council meeting.  While answering a few questions Inspector Medved explained that:

  • ATV/ORV/UTV's will be enforced like any other  vehicle under the Highway Traffic Act,
  • Educating the public on their proper use is important and
  • Provincial Highways have clear restrictions on their use.

With the passing of this by-law it is IMPORTANT to realize that at this time although ATV/ORV/UTV's are now allowed to be used on Township roadways, that is NOT the case for District roads.

Integrity Commissioner

Robert Swayze, the Integrity Commissioner for the Township of Muskoka Lakes, was before Council to present his findings and answer questions regarding formal complaints that had been filed against councillors.  Mr. Swayze explained to Council that it was not his roll to take a political position on an issue but to enforce the Township's Code of Conduct.  In actuality, informal or formal complaints were filed against every member of council by three different parties.  Mr. Swayze stated that he did not find that any member of council was in breach of the Code of Conduct.  He explained that in his opinion Councillors were:

  • Permitted to political posturing,
  • Not going against ethics,
  • Allowed to meet with developers to make an informed decision and
  • Political beings who are allowed to “speak their minds”, “can say what they want” and are permitted to “express themselves”.

He also stated it is up to the electorate to decide if members of council are behaving badly or inappropriately and to take a stand.

As reported in the February Township Watch the MRA did take a stand (February 2016 - Township Watch).  An informal complaint was filed against Councillors Harding, Nishikawa, Kruckel and Currie for walking out of the January Council meeting leaving the Township without quorum and unable to conduct business.  It was deemed that their actions were simply “a political tactic and not an abdication of responsibility”.  Formal complaints were filed against Councillor Currie for lack of decorum and Councillor Harding for releasing closed session information. 

Although the Integrity Commissioner states that he feels that the “complaints by the ratepayer group were filed in good faith”, he dismissed the MRA's complaints saying that neither councillor had breached the Code of Conduct.  Complaints filed by Tim McDonald and Glenn Zavitz were also dismissed for the same reason.  Click on 1604 - Integrity Commissioner.pdf Integrity Commissioner to read the full report in the council agenda package.

Meeting Schedule

Due to the short length of planning meetings recently the meeting schedule has been amended to combine Planning and Committee of the Whole.  Starting in May 2016 the meetings will be combined under the name Committee of the Whole.  The meeting will begin at 9 AM with Planning Services and will be followed by General Services which will be comprised of public works services, corporate service, community services and visioning and economic development services.

Mark your calendars ~ the MRA AGM is on Saturday, July 16th, 2016.

Remember you can follow the MRA on Facebook under our full name,

and on Twitter at Twitter.com/MuskokaRatepyrs

 

Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

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
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