Township Watch - November 2015


Council - Friday, November 13th, 2015

North Bala Falls Small Hydro Plant

The Bala Falls Hydro Plant was once again before Council.  The issue on this day was that Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) had publicly given this date as a final date for signing a lease with the Township as they need to move forward with the project.  Presentations were then heard from:

  1. Mitchell Shnier from SaveTheBalaFalls.com spoke about “Council's responsibilities”1511 - Council - Delegation 5.a.1.pdf Delegation and questioned what was being saved in Margaret Burgess Park except for “two trees” and some “roots” that may be crushed by heavy equipment.
  2. Cassandra Ford, representing "the Bala Business Community”, questioned why SREL was more important than the merchants in Bala and why critical issues were being ignored.1511 - Council - Delegation 5.a.2.pdf Delegation
  3. Deborah Ylanko, representing the Moon River Property Owners Association (MRPOA), then spoke about concerns regarding water quality on the Moon River, and stated that in MRPOA's opinion it would make more sense to protect the trees on the municipal lands known as Portage Landing over 20 trees in Margaret Burgess Park.1511 - Council - Delegation 5.a.3.pdf Delegation
  4. The final speaker, Ted Daglish, explained he was a Professional Engineer and was speaking in favour of the hydro plant and urged Council's acceptance of a land lease with SREL.

The presentations were followed by questions and a discussion at the council table regarding:

  • The impact the hydro plant will have on Bala,
  • Concerns that the public seems to have private information regarding the lease of municipal lands while this item has only been discussed in council closed sessions,
  • Concerns that the MNRF will fence off Margaret Burgess Park even if the municipal lands are leased to SREL.

Following a lengthy closed session, no resolution was read regarding leasing of the municipal lands to SREL for their staging area. 

Planning Committee of the Whole - Monday, November 16th, 2015

Application for Alteration of Property Designated under the Heritage Act

SREL submitted a written request to the Township to make alterations to the municipally owned Portage Landing.  This land, immediately adjacent to the proposed generator plant, is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.  According to the staff report “under the Ontario Heritage Act, the municipality can either consent to the request, consent to the request with conditions, or refuse the request”.    Three options were before the committee:

  • Option 1: do nothing
  • Option 2: permit alteration of the site and require rehabilitation to existing conditions, and
  • Option 3: permit alteration of the site and require rehabilitation based on an approved rehabilitation plan.

Prior to hearing presentations Director of Planning, David Pink explained that a heritage consultant, Mr. Dan Currie from MacNaughton Hermsen Britton Clarkson Planning Limited (MHBC) had been hired to assist the Planning Committee in their decision.  Presentations were heard from:

  1. Gunta Towsley, President of the ACO, Muskoka Branch who stated that the ACO had concerns regarding the land lease and urged the Township to obtain Margaret Burgess Park prior to allowing SREL to lease municipal lands.  She asked that the ACO be appointed to the rehabilitation of the lands committee and urged committee to support option 1 - 1511 - Planning - Item 5.a.1.1.pdf Delegation
  2. Mitchell Shnier reviewed for committee portions of the Townships Official Plan that details policy to govern development. And further ranked the suitability of the options and stated that option 1 “will make everyone happy” - 1511 - Planning - Item 5.a.1.4.pdf Delegation 
  3. Dan Currie explained that he had been retained to provide advice to committee and in his opinion, since the alterations were not permanent option 2 or option 3 were better.  Mr. Currie then stated that he preferred option 3 as the scenic lookout on the hydro plant will help to mitigate some of the views that will be obstructed by the hydro plant.  It was recommended that fill and grading be kept to the centre of the rehabilitated site on Portage Landing, that the Township request a more detailed planting plan by SREL, that the work be done to Township standards and that there be a “viewing platform agreement” so that public access is maintained long term.  If you are interested in the details, they may be found on pages 163 through 204 of the Agenda Package for the November 16, 2015 Planning Committee on the Township web site - www.muskokalakes.ca - agenda packages

In response to questions from the Planning Committee Mr. Currie explained that:

  • A legal agreement should be reached to ensure that the property is rehabilitated,
  • A benefit of the rehabilitation plan is that the fill brought onto Portage Landing will mitigate the height of the building.  Without fill the building would appear to be four stories high but with fill it will be two stories,
  • The only permanent alteration to the site would be the fill that is brought onto Portage Landing, as new trees will eventually grow to the height that they are today,
  • Loss of the portage or picnic lands is short term, as the lands will be returned to public use once construction is complete, and
  • When asked which takes precedence, Green Energy or Heritage, Mr. Currie explained that if the type of energy is from the Green Energy Act then the municipality has “trouble” with heritage.

Following a closed session discussion, a resolution to support Option 3 was read and passed at a vote of 7 to 3.

Comprehensive Zoning By-Law

As was reported in the April 2015 Township Watch (Township Watch - April) the Comprehensive Zoning By-law (2014-14) was appealed by 18 parties to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).  At the Planning meeting Director of Planning, David Pink, informed the committee that the Ontario Municipal Board has rendered 2014-14 to be in effect.   The appeals that remain unsettled are scheduled to be heard in an eight day hearing in the spring of 2016 and a four day hearing in the summer of 2016.  Mr. Pink explained that these appeals/hearings will cost the Township, including legal fees, upwards of $10,000.00 per day.

Committee of the Whole - Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Tennis Courts in Bala

A private citizen, Mr. Jim Frangakis presented to Committee of the Whole requesting that funds be allocated in the 2016 budget for a pair of tennis courts at the “Bala Sports Park”.  He explained that he had been at Committee last fall with the same request, had been turned down and he hopes his request will be approved this year.  There was no resolution to be read.

Procedural By-Law Review

There was a brief report on the procedural by-law review.  A working committee has been formed and has met to review key issues and areas of complaint.  To date, items that have been discussed are:

  • Posting agenda packages seven business days prior to meetings,
  • Agendas being amended three business days prior to the meeting, and
  • Consent agendas. 

This item was only on the agenda for discussion purposes and no resolution was read.

Code of Conduct and Integrity Commissioner

The Code of Conduct that was passed by Council in July 2015 included a provision for an Integrity Commissioner who, if the need arises, would deal with complaints.  CAO, Steve McDonald, informed the Committee of the Whole that three applications had been received for the position and that the evaluation process determined an appropriate individual by a large margin.  Mr. McDonald recommended that Robert Swayze be appointed as Integrity Commissioner for a three year term.  The resolution was carried and will be ratified at the December 2015 Council meeting.

District of Muskoka Council Meeting - Monday, November 16th, 2015

The District Council meeting was run quickly, and there is no significant information to report from it.

Muskoka Ratepayers' Comments

On Process

Individuals, who “delegate” Council and Committees, attend these meetings expecting a level of courtesy and decorum from councillors.  It is not good governance when some of our elected officials speak disrespectfully to presenters.  Most often, these presenters are taxpayers in the Township and this is their only forum to express their view publicly to their elected representatives.

 

Please note there is now a reduced speed limit on Muskoka Road #169
at the Glen Orchard Public School during school hours.
This area is well marked with a flashing amber light at the north and south ends.
 
 

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Nov 25, 2017 9:00am to 1:00pm
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Dec 13, 2017 9:00am to 12:00pm
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Dec 15, 2017 9:00am to 12:00pm
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