Township Watch - October 2015

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Land Ownership Under Bridge - Muskoka Road 169 in Bala

As reported in the September Township Watch (Township Watch - September) a resolution was brought to Committee of the Whole in September regarding district ownership of the lake bed under the bridge on Muskoka Road 169 in Bala.  Prior to the resolution being ratified at Council on Friday, October 16th, 2015 Mitchell Shnier presented his concerns regarding potential risk and damage to the bridge if excavation and blasting were allowed to take place beneath it. (Save the Bala Falls Concerns re Bridge)  He asked for council's support on passing the resolution.  Frank Belerique from Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) then explained that SREL had no plans to blast under the bridge and to avoid further disagreements SREL had informed the District last winter that they will no longer encroach on these lands below the bridge.

The resolution was then voted on and carried at a vote of six to four.

Following this presentation, Mr. Belerique informed Council that he had the plans for the hydro plant with him (Swift River - Plans) and asked if Council would like to see them before being released to the public.  Council confirmed they would like to see the plans.  Mr. Belerique explained that the plans:

  • were sensitive to the heritage attributes in the area,
  • were protective of the flat shoreline rocks and portage,
  • would allow the public handicap access from street level,
  • would have pathways to the front of the plant where there will be a look out, and
  • would have a protective canopy over the windows where the public can see the equipment. 

It was explained that from street level the plant will be 7.5 meters in height and will be 254 square meters in size. 

Mr. Belerique's presentation ended abruptly when a couple of councillors objected to his information being released to them this way and it was taking too long.

Heritage Conservation Easement

This item was on the Planning agenda on Monday, October 19th, 2015 for information purposes only.  Following a presentation by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) at the September Council meeting, staff was instructed to research what a “Heritage Conservation Easement” was.  Director of Planning, David Pink, explained that a heritage conservation easement was a “voluntary legal agreement between the municipality and the heritage property owner...” (1510 - Heritage.pdf Heritage).  Following this explanation Mitchell Shnier made a presentation asking that at the November Council meeting that the following information be brought forward:

  • when exactly did the Township of Muskoka Lakes and the District of Muskoka learn that the lands below the bridge on Muskoka Road 169 in Bala were not owned by the MRNF but by the District,
  • how will the Township enforce that there will be no impact to Margaret Burgess Park and that SREL will restore the lands known as Portage Landing, and
  • how will this project impact the Township's insurance and its cost.

This presentation was followed by Frank Belerique who asked the committee to consider the lease regarding the use of Township lands between the Township and SREL.  Mr. Belerique explained that SREL does not want to destroy Margaret Burgess Park and does not want to take the use of the park away from the public nor do they want to block the bridge through Bala during construction of the power plant.  Mr. Belerique further stated that this project needs to move forward.  SREL will be submitting their final applications and will need to say whether they are using Margaret Burgess Park or Portage Landing lands for their staging area.  It all centres on a lease being finalized with the Township right away.

The ACO spoke to the committee about the heritage attributes and stated that Margaret Burgess Park should be transferred to the Township with a heritage easement.

The committee discussed:

  • tree removal in Margaret Burgess Park,
  • the lease between the Township and SREL, and
  • the type of public input that had/had not been received for the design of the plant. 

As this was on the agenda for information purposes only, no resolution was read.

Peninsula Community Centre

Members of the Peninsula Community Centre hall board and the Minett community were present at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 to hear a presentation on potential upgrades to the centre.  They propose to expand and reconstruct the stage and build an addition to house a new lobby.  The building will be handicap accessible via a new ramp which will lead to the main entrance.  It is estimated that the renovations will cost $79,500.00 of which the community has raised $38,600.00.  In order to see the project finalized a request was brought forth to ask council to add $39,750.00 to the 2016 budget to finance half of the costs.  Members of the committee thought that this was a “fabulous idea” and several said they could support the request.  The necessary resolution was read and was carried.

2016 Budget Guidelines

Treasurer Shannon Johnson explained to the Committee of the Whole that a tentative budget schedule would be as follows:

Oct / Nov 2015 - departmental development of budget requirements

Nov / Dec 2015 - Consolidation and Treasury review of budget requirements

Dec 2015 - Presentation to the Finance Review Committees          

Jan / Feb 2016 - Budget Review by Committee of the Whole

Mar 2016 - Council adoption of the budget.

Ms Johnson stated that reserves have been declining and it is important to increase the reserves.  CAO Steve McDonald stated that there were many fixed costs in the Township budget and there is a need to look at costs that the Township can control.

Upcoming Events

With the holiday season quickly approaching, requests for road closures were made by:

  • the 39th annual Bala Santa Claus parade (Saturday, November 14th at 1 PM),
  • the 4th annual Port Carling Santa Claus parade (Saturday, November 21st at 6 PM), and
  • the Bala Trek to Bethlehem (Saturday, December 5th).

Each resolution was carried.

Meeting Schedule

Please be aware that December 2015 meeting schedule has been amended, and is as follows:

Committee of Adjustment Thursday, December 10th

Council Friday, December 11th.

Planning Committee of the Whole Monday, December 14th.

Committee of the Whole Tuesday, December 15th.


It is disheartening to see councillors continue to disrespect, not only other councillors but staff members as well.  It is not appropriate to question a staff member's integrity at a committee meeting.


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Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

TML - Committee of the Whole
Apr 11, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Council
Apr 12, 2019 9:00am to 12:00pm
MRA - Board Meeting
Apr 27, 2019 9:00am to 1:00pm
MRA - AGM 2019
Jul 20, 2019 10:00am to 12:00pm
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