Township Watch - August 2015


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Ethosolar Solar Farm

This proposed solar farm located at 1110 Brackenrig Centre Road was originally before the Planning Committee on July 20th, 2015 asking for committee and council support.  As neighbours had not been formally notified the proponent was asked to send information packages to neighbours and return to the  Planning Committee at a later date.  On Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 the proponent returned with several letters of support.  An Ethosolar representative explained that the solar farm would be approximately two acres in size and be a 500 KW project.  Projects of this size are normally known in the industry as a “solar garden” not a solar farm.  During a brief discussion regarding setbacks and the location of this project, Director of Planning, David Pink explained that the committee does not have any input into where the project goes.  That it is in the hands of the Province.  The committee voted to support the project.

Muskoka SaniSolar Inc.

This potential solar project was before the Planning Committee looking for support to circulate information to abutting neighbours for two 250 KW solar projects to be located at 1691 Muskoka Road 169.   The project was also looking for a Municipal Support Resolution at a future council meeting.  A representative from Muskoka SaniSolar explained that the 100 acre plot of land that will be screened by the large trees surrounding the property and the actual project will be six acres in size.  It was further explained that the project would be located on lands rented from the District of Muskoka.  Those with concerns have until the September council meeting to provide comment.  The committee voted to support the resolution.

Health Hub ~ Brock and Willa Wellness Centre

As was reported in the May 2015 Township Watch (Township Watch - May 2015) a public input meeting was held on May 15th, 2015 regarding the Health Hub which is compromised of a Nursing Station, Andy's House Hospice and the Lions retirement residences.  Concerns were raised at that time by the Province and District of Muskoka.  Following the May meeting, staff was not given direction as how to proceed with the costs that will be incurred by the necessary reports for lands where Andy's House and the Lions retirement residence will sit.  While discussing who should incur these costs, members of the planning committee raised several further concerns ~

  • to date the Lions do not have an entrance permit from Bruce Wilson Drive,
  • a traffic study may be necessary,
  • the lands proximity to an old township landfill site,
  • archeological reports might be necessary on a site that has already been filled in.

Some members of the committee felt these studies should move forward in the 2016 budget process because when the township accepted the donated lands where the health hub will sit, it also accepted ownership of the property.  Other members of the planning committee felt the township had only accepted the lands for the nursing station and it was not their “mandate” to build the hospice and Lions residence.  After a brief discussion it was decided to “Allocate funds in the 2016 budget process to complete any necessary studies, reviews, agreements, etc at which point staff will report back to Council”.

Financial Reports

During the Committee of the Whole on Wednesday, August 12th a presentation were given by DBO Dunwoody regarding the 2014 Township Audit which was described as a “clean audit”.  The auditor spoke of how the township needs to replace assets as they are using them up.  This was followed by financial reports given by Township Treasurer, Shannon Johnson who stated that as of the end of June 2015 there remains 55.8% of the budget unused. See -Agenda Package - 150812 - Item 6.b.2 - COW - August 12, 2015.pdf Financial Report - 2Q 15.  Ms Johnson did say that many capital projects have started but the associated invoices have not yet been received by the treasury department.  Following a brief presentation on Township “reserve transactions” Ms Johnson informed the committee that at the end of 2014, discretionary reserves were at 49.7% of the levy and would be at 40% of the levy at the end of 2015.  In her opinion this is low, as reserves should be closer to 60% of the levy. See - Agenda Package - 150812 - Item 6.b.3 - COW - August 12, 2015.pdf Financial Reserves.  According to Ms Johnson the township needs to be concerned about building up the reserves.

Mayor's Golf  Tournament

The Mayor's golf tournament was held in June with a commitment to donate funds raised to the West Muskoka Food Bank.  At Council on Friday, August 14th, 2015 Deputy Mayor Baranik presented Terry Chute from the food bank with a cheque in the amount of $18,210.92.  Mayor Furniss thanked Deputy Mayor Baranik for her hard work in making the event a success.  Mayor Furniss then thanked the councillors who attended the event, staff for their hard work on the event, those who donated to the silent auction as well as those who participated.

District

There is a change in the meeting schedule this month to accommodate councillors from the Township of Muskoka Lakes and District who are attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario meeting. The District Council meeting is therefore being held Monday, August 24th, 2015.  If there is anything to report following that meeting the MRA will send out a second Township Watch.

Process

As reported in the July Township Watch (Township Watch - July 2015) following the July council meeting two district councillors went against the will of council and took it upon themselves to write the District requesting a “reconsideration vote” on the permanent road widening of Muskoka Road 169 as “new information” was coming forward.  When asked on Friday, August 14th what this new information might be, one of those district councillors stated he would “bring it up at the district meeting”.

 

We hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful summer weather.

 

 

 

 

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