Township Watch - January 2016

Process - Relocated to this lead story because of it's impact

Following a closed session meeting at Council on Friday, January 15th four councillors, Sandy Currie (Ward A), Ruth Nishikawa (Ward A), Phil Harding (Ward C) and Donelda Kruckel (Ward A) who is the Acting Deputy Mayor - walked out of the public portion of the meeting before resolutions could be read.  Their actions left the Township unable to complete Township business as there was no longer a quorum present.  Obviously they knew this would occur as one councillor asked how many councillors were required for a quorum before leaving.  Their actions removed all transparency from the democratic process.  The Township's solicitor, who was present at the time, said that their behaviour was “irresponsible”.   The clerk, who has been working for the Township for 28 years, said she has never encountered this problem. 

As per procedure, which the clerk and CAO had to research, Councillors Edwards (Ward B), McTaggart (Ward B), Barrick-Spearn (Ward B), Ledger (Ward C) and Mayor Furniss waited half an hour before leaving the council chambers.  That 30 minutes wait is mandated to allow for the absentee councillors to have a “change of heart”.   (Deputy Mayor Baranik (Ward C) had previously sent regrets to attend the meeting that day.) 

A cohesive and well functioning council speaks with ONE voice.  Each councillor has a right to his own opinion but once the “vote” has been taken, win or lose, councillors are expected to respect that majority rules.

For more detailed information on this subject go to - Article - Courtesy of Muskoka News Watch

Planning - January 14th, 2016

Lake Trout Management of Long/Cardwell Lake

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has informed the Township that Long/Cardwell Lake is to be removed from their trout management list.   When a lake is managed by the MNRF there are strict provincial regulations placed on the development of the lake which are encompassed in the Township's comprehensive zoning by-law.  It was explained that the entire lake, which was once owned by a logging company, is now mostly owned by individuals who hold large acreage and frontages.  Following a discussion regarding the status of the lake, which is laid out in the Official Plan,  it was decided to leave the lake in its current zone and deal with applications as they arise.

Committee of the Whole  - January 14th, 2016

Development Services Department Activity Report

Neil Donald, Development Services Coordinator, brought a report to committee indicating that there has been an increase in building permits in 2014 and 2015.  The report stated that during 2015 the building department issued 1095 building permits with fees totaling $1,220,332.14 and that the total value of building in 2015 was $99,409,875.21.  There were also additional fees for inspections of properties totaling $36,600.00.   This report was for information purposes only.

Municipally Owned Land - 59 Joseph Street

The Township of Muskoka Lakes purchased 59 Joseph Street in Port Carling, in August 2013 to ensure that when and if expansion of the Township offices were required that land would be available.  The house, which was rented briefly, currently sits vacant.  Director of Public Works, Roger Young, presented the following possible uses of the property to the committee:

  • Demolish the home and reinstate the property as a vacant, grassed lot,
  • Demolish the home and construct a gravel or paved parking lot,
  • Pursue rental lease for profit opportunities, or
  • Perhaps affordable housing.

The committee discussed the pros and cons of market rent and affordable housing, both of which would have financial implications to the Township as the property requires some renovations.  In a vote of seven to two, it was decided to demolish the house and turn the property into a parking lot.

Kee to Bala 75th Anniversary Event

A one day event is proposed to celebrate the Kee to Bala's 75 years of operation.  The event would have both family and evening components to it with the day time events running from 11 AM to 5 PM and the evening from 8 PM to 2 AM ~ for further details of events click here -1601 - COW - Kee to Bala.pdf  Proposed Kee to Bala Celebration.  The presenter explained that they would require some road closures on Bala Falls Road and requested a noise exemption until 2 AM.  It was noted by the committee that no specific date was provided.  A resolution to allow the event to proceed was read with the addition that senior staff, Ward A councillors and concerned businesses meet with the Kee to Bala.  The resolution carried with none opposed.

ATV/ORV/UTV Use On Township Roads

Fire Chief, Richard Hayes, informed the committee that the Township was the only municipality in the District that has not passed a by-law allowing use of these vehicles on municipal roadways.  The vehicles are required to be licensed and will be enforced under the Highway Traffic Act.  Although it was suggested that a trial should be done in Walker's Point only, Committee decided that it should be Township wide.  Once the by-law is ratified at council the 12 months trial will begin, following which  the Committee will be looking for feedback as to whether it should continue or not.  The resolution was passed unanimously.

Fire Apparatus Procurement

Chief Hayes was once again before the Committee regarding the purchase of two fire trucks that were allocated in the 2015 budget.  Tenders had been received for two types of fire trucks and it was up to committee to decide which trucks they wished to purchased.  It was outlined in the report that a fire truck with a “purpose built chassis” had a life span of 20 years, while a “commercial build chassis” had a life span of 15 years.  This is reflected in the costs.  When committee members questioned Chief Hayes regarding why he did not have new chassis put into existing vehicles or why used vehicles were not purchased, Chief Hayes reminded the committee that “Council sets the level of service”.  CAO McDonald explained that for insurance reasons vehicles must be replaced every 20 years and that the Township tries to use vehicles for that length of time unless there is a reason not to.  The committee voted seven to two to procure fire trucks with “commercial built chassis”.

Port Carling Figure Skating Club

The Port Carling Figure Skating Club will once again be teaming up with the Brian Orser Foundation to run a two week skating camp, which in past years has had skaters from 11 different countries.  The skating school will start Monday, August 22nd and run Monday to Friday for two weeks.  Following the completion of the lessons a skating performance will be held on Saturday, September 3rd, 2016 with Mr. Orser's students and friends, including Jeffrey Buttle.

2016 Budget Meeting Schedule

  • Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 - 9 AM ~ Special Committee of the Whole meeting to introduce the budget
  • Friday, February 19th, 2016 - 7 PM ~ Special Council meeting to receive public input
  • Friday, March 4th, 2016 - 9 AM ~ Special Committee of the Whole meeting for budget deliberations
  • Friday, March 18th, 2016 - 9 AM ~ Budget to be adopted at the Regular Council meeting.

Council - Friday, January 15th, 2016

There were five zoning amendments with corresponding by-laws unanimously passed with no opposition at Council.  Presenters for one application arrived with a very large model of a proposed development on an island, as well as large pictures.  Following the presentation Mayor Furniss very generously called a short recess so that members of the public and press who were seated behind the display could get up to view what was being proposed.

At approximately 12 noon Council went into closed session.  At 3:22 PM when council was returning to reconvene in open session, the four councillors previously mentioned left the council chambers. 

Because of this action, consideration of a by-law to confirm the proceeding of Council could not be read.


The MRA reminds you that WINTERFEST is being held in Port Carling

the weekend of February 5th to 7th, 2016.


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