Township Watch - April 2015

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Comprehensive Zoning By-Law

Comprehensive Zoning By-law 2014-14 was passed by Council on February 13, 2015.  18 appeals have been filed with the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).  The majority of the appeals are site specific matters, however, two of the appeals have appealed the by-law in its entirety.  Until such time as the OMB issues an Order rendering those sections of 2014-14 that are not under appeal  in effect, planning applications and building permits will be considered based on both by-laws 87-87 and 14-14.

Heritage Committee

A heritage committee was brought forth by Mayor Furniss for approval at the Council meeting of April 17, 2015.  Councillors questioned Mayor Furniss on the number of applicants and why the committee was to have only six members (four citizens and two councillors).  Once it became apparent that the discussion was going to involve “identifiable people” the discussion was moved to closed session.  The proposed heritage committee was defeated by Council.

Little Library

A presentation was given at the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, April 21 regarding “little libraries”.  A little library is a “hand-built box where neighbours trade novels, memories, comic books and cookbooks”.  The delegate was there to ask committees permission to establish little libraries on municipal lands in Raymond and Winderemere.  For more information on these libraries contact the Muskoka Lakes Public Library at 705-765-5650.

Rooming House Licensing By-Law

The Planning Committee recommended that this by-law be brought to council on April 17th.  Although this by-law was initially brought forth by the community some councillors thought it was “scratching an itch that is not there” and that “Council was rushing head long here”.  Following a brief discussion it was suggested that this by-law was not going to be easily enforceable and the by-law was defeated.

North Bala Falls Hydro Project

This contentious issue was before the Committee of the Whole again regarding the Swift River working committee’s recommendation to lease township lands to SREL, so that they do not have to use Margaret Burgess Park.  SREL’s final offer to the working committee was $125,000.00 to lease part of the Shield parking lot, part of Don’s Bakery parking lot in off season months and the use of Portage Landing lands.   The agreement also included a reduction in the amount of leased lands and not only, rehabilitating the lands they would use, but improving them at cost to SREL.  Frank Belerique from SREL was there to discuss the Bala Falls working committee recommendation and answer questions.  Many delegations were present and presented arguments against leasing lands to SREL.

  • Swift River - Bala Falls Working Committee Report
  • Cassandra Ford ~ Bala Business Community & Economic Impacts 
  • Martin Ford ~ Concerns about CPR footings and safety concerns
  • Mitchell Shnier ~ Bala Falls Working Committee Report
  • Deborah Ylanko ~ Bala Falls Working Committee Report
  • Tom Millar ~ Bala Falls Working Committee Report
  • Ted Farley ~ North Bala Falls Small Hydro Project

We have produced a consolidated document with most of the delegations - see150421 - COW Delegations.pdf Bala Falls COW Delegations

After hours of discussion the committee voted on whether or not to “endorse in principle the option of leasing the Township lands to SREL, based on its final offer” which included $125,000.00 to be paid by SREL to the Township.  This resolution was defeated in a recorded vote of 5 to 4.


The Budget Committee, which was made up of two councillors, four volunteer members of the public, the CAO and the Treasurer, met for two full days of discussion on April 1 and 2.  There was then a special Council meeting held on Friday, April 10th where the Treasurer introduced the budget and it was reviewed in depth by Council.  A public input meeting was held on Monday, April 13th where the CAO and Treasurer introduced the budget to the public and then heard presentations from the public.  The budget was once again reviewed by councillors at Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, April 21st where a few changes were made.   The levy tax rate in 2015 is going to be 7.04% or $6.90 for every $100,000.00 value of your property.

With the large weather event in Hekkla last September the public works was over budget, which in turn put the Township of Muskoka Lakes over budget.

According to Interim CAO Clayton Harris “the decline in reserves, particularly discretionary reserves, is a concern if the decline continues.”


It was interesting to hear a Ward A Councillor at the council meeting say “we cannot stop the plant”.  Yet, she still does not seem to be working towards a best case scenario for a project that “cannot” be stopped.

Members of the public should not be disruptive and show respect for members of council during meetings.  Yelling comments like “stuff it” during meetings is just not appropriate! 

Councillors also need to show respect for each other and the position in office.  Yelling comments such as “bloc voting” across the table is just not acceptable behaviour.

It is unfortunate that a Ward A Councillor's behaviour has forced Council into requesting a public apology from Councillor Currie.  Before reading the resolution, Mayor Furniss said that it was the hardest resolution he has had to read and hopes he does not have to read another one.  The resolution can be read here -150421 - COW Resolution re Currie.pdf COW Resolution re Currie.  A brief apology was offered to Council at the beginning of the special Council meeting held on April 24th, 2015.


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