Township Watch - December 2014

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Inaugural Meetings

On Monday, December 3rd, 2014 the 2014 to 2018 Township of Muskoka Lakes council was sworn in.  The MRA was in attendance and to read further,  please click - TML - Inaugural Meeting.

Monday, December 8th, 2014 marked the inaugural meeting of the District Municipalities of Muskoka council, as well as the election of a District Chair - click here for that report - District of Muskoka - Inaugural Meeting.

Comprehensive Zoning By-Law

With three new councillors this term of office, the comprehensive zoning by-law was on the planning committee agenda to be reviewed by the new council.  Director of Planning, David Pink, informed the committee that the draft by-law had been reviewed by a township solicitor who advised that the township has no ability to put time limits of reconstruction of legal non-complying buildings or state that a legal non-complying building must be damaged or unsafe in order for it to be rebuilt.  After hearing from three delegations regarding concerns in the draft by-law, the committee had a lengthy discussion regarding the holding zone being placed on development in Minett, Gull Rock Tent & Trailer Park and front yard setbacks for saunas, gazebos and pump houses.   It was agreed that as Gull Rock Tent & Trailer Park is already zoned for a tent & trailer park it does not lose that zoning.  For clarification, the by-law is only prohibiting new tent & trailer parks on the three big lakes.   It was decided that the following changes would be made to the draft by-law:

  • That restrictions stating the a legal non-complying structure must be damaged or unsafe for it to be rebuilt, as well as the time limitation of two years to obtain building permits and three years to rebuild be removed,
  • That the holding zone on redevelopment in Minett be removed to allow minimum development,
  • That gazebos must be one metre or farther from the shoreline,
  • That 100 square feet of cumulative space on the ground floor of a boathouse can be used for a bathroom, utility room and/or a sauna.  Allowing a sauna in a boathouse is a new addition to the by-law,
  • That a definition of a pump house be added to the by-law to restrict its use.

The comprehensive zoning by-law will return to the planning committee on Monday, January 19th, 2015 allowing one last opportunity for the public to delegate any concerns, with consideration of passing the by-law at council in February 2015.  IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THIS BY-LAW, THIS WILL BE YOUR LAST OPPORTUNITY TO OBJECT.

Bala Heritage Conservation District

As reported in previous Township Watches, the past council implemented a Heritage Conservation District in Bala which was passed by resolution at the October 2014 council meeting.  This decision has been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board by Canadian Pacific Railways, Swift River Energy Limited and seven property owners on Bala Falls Road.  The planning department is preparing the necessary documents to be sent to the OMB. 

Swift River Energy Limited (SREL)/Bala Falls

There were seven delegations regarding the North Bala hydro generating facility presenting at the new Committee of the Whole on December 16th 2014.  With so many scheduled delegates, Mayor Furniss emphasized that the five minute rule for podium time would be strictly adhered to and stated that questions would be held until after the close of all presentations and asked in the same order as the presentations.

Jeff Mole was there to ask the committee to endorse and sign a letter he had scripted on their behalf to Premier Wynne. This letter opposed the Bala Falls development by SREL as the hundred million dollars in potential revenue should go to the community and not to a private developer.  The committee did not take any action regarding this letter.

A combined time of ten minutes was allowed for Mr. Frank Belerique, Vice President of SREL and Karl Stevens of Stevens Burgess Assoc., the architectural firm hired by SREL to design the facility.  Most of their time was needed for Mr. Stevens to show the committee the design concept favoured by his firm in association with a group of individuals from the community.   This design showed a smaller building than originally proposed at street level being worked into the natural slope of the land.  Although they were there for presentation purposes only, and did not ask anything of the committee, Mr. Belerique did state that he wanted to restart discussions with the new council.  SREL has suggested they would like to form a committee to re-elevate all options that have been put forth over the previous years.

Peggy Peterson, a self appointed protester in the town of Bala, was next on the agenda. Ms Peterson said that she came to Bala last August for her own agenda but subsequently picked up the save the falls issue and said the local Mohawk band asked her to stay and protect a portage route. She set up camp at the falls, where she remained for over a 100 days.  When her allocated five minutes was over, she was cautioned by Mayor Furniss to conclude.  However, she refused to leave the podium.  Mayor Furniss rose to his feet, declared the committee was taking a five minute recess and again, requested Ms Peterson to leave the podium. The purpose of her delegation was unclear.

Mitchell Shnier of Save the Bala Falls and Deborah Ylanko of the Moon River Property Owners Association presented arguments heard many times before by previous councils as to why this project should not proceed. The time honoured tradition of swimming in the falls, raging currents preventing docking and blocking of the only portage from the Moon River to Lake Muskoka to name a few reasons. They both asked that the Township help to stop the project.

Most subsequent questions, mainly from councillors Currie, Nishikawa and Harding, were directed to Mr. Stevens and Mr. Belerique. Some of the questions drew applause from the audience and some of SREL’s answers likewise drew discontent. The question period lasted about half an hour.

The committee asked interim CAO Clayton Harris to prepare a report on the presentations for the January 2015 Committee of the Whole meeting.

OPP Funding Costs

The District of Muskoka is facing an increase in OPP funding costs.  Interim CAO, Clayton Harris presented a report at the Committee of the Whole meeting on OPP cost options being reviewed by both the Township of Muskoka Lakes and the District Municipality of Muskoka.  Due to high property values in the Township of Muskoka Lakes, property owners may find that they are required to pay a higher portion of the OPP funding.  A resolution was passed by the committee asking the provincial government to NOT implement the new billing model on January 1st, 2015 until other costing options have been explored.  The Township of Muskoka Lakes is seeking further legal opinions on this complex and complicated issue.

The MRA wishes everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR.


Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

MRA - Board Meeting
Nov 24, 2018 9:00am to 1:00pm
TML - Inaugural Council
Dec 3, 2018 11:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Special Council
Dec 6, 2018 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Committe of Adjustment
Dec 12, 2018 9:00am to 9:00pm
TML - Committee of the Whole
Dec 13, 2018 9:00am to 12:00pm
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