The Muskoka Ratepayers’ Association welcomes interim Chief Administrative Office Clayton Harris to the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Mr. Harris was formerly the City Manager from the City of Vaughan. Having a CAO at the helm of day to day affairs and overseeing sitting Council keeps the Township on an even keel in our opinion.
Muskoka Woods Camp returned to Council on Friday, July 18th with their 20 year development plan. The camp wishes to increase their size to accommodate more campers and staff, as well as increase the number of programs they offer. The by-law that was before Council reflected compromises made by the camp, neighbours and lake associations. As staff had not had the opportunity to review the ongoing negotiations, the by-law was given first and second reading.
YMCA Camp Pinecrest was also in front of Council for a change in their zoning. As the original application was deferred, this application has already been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) for a lack of decision. In an odd twist of process, Mayor Murphy questioned the delegates if there was an opportunity for a dialogue between the parties. Mayor Murphy, Councillor Nishikawa, legal counsel and representatives from the camp, Clear Lake Road Committee, Clear Lake Property Owners Association, Echo / Gullwing Lakes and the MLA had a meeting in Mayor Murphy’s office. Mayor Murphy reported back to council that there had been “meaningful dialogue” and asked that the application be deferred to the August meeting so the group could meet again.
Every five years the municipality is required to pass a new “Development Charges By-law”. As per regulation the public meeting was held on Friday, July 18th with a presentation by Stefan Krzeczunowicz of HENSON Consulting Ltd. The maximum permissible development charges were presented to Council for both residential and non-residential units. Councillors had comments, questions and concerns which need to be addressed prior to the August council meeting as the by-law must be adopted by September 2nd, 2014.
Community zoning in the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law was reviewed. Director of Planning, David Pink, walked the planning committee through front yard setbacks and zoning changes in both waterfront and urban areas. Jones Consulting is working on a second draft of the by-law. Although some members of the committee asked to see the draft, Mr. Pink pointed out that he has not seen it and would like to review it with Jones Consulting prior to it being sent to council.
Interim CAO, Mr. Harris, gave a verbal report on the Council Code of Conduct. He indicated that staff would obtain a copy of the District’s new Code of Conduct and adapt it to the municipal level with proper terms of reference. Although some councillors requested that it be circulated to them early, Mr. Harris felt it was going to be a challenge to have a working document ready for the August committee meeting. He did not think he could have it available for the council prior.
As the committee of the whole meeting began on Tuesday, July 22nd, Mayor Murphy asked council to add four items to the agenda. Two of these items were of special interest. The first was to appoint the volunteer trails committee to examine alternative portage routes around the Bala Falls, as the Ontario Court of Appeal had upheld the Ministry of Natural Resources’ choice to forbid public use of their lands adjacent to the falls. This resolution was a point of contention as Mayor Murphy stated in the press release the day before that “given the Court’s decision, we will be seeking to identify an alternate canoe portage route”. The usual process for such matters is to pass a resolution first, then make an announcement.
The second item of interest related to the Township’s communication and media protocol. Although the press release regarding the Bala Falls appeal was drafted by the interim CAO, reviewed by Mayor Murphy and legal counsel, some councillors were concerned that they had not been aware of it nor apprised of its content. Councillors have asked that they be provided knowledge prior to press releases or, in instances such as this press release, have a brief discussion regarding it. This could have been facilitated easily as they were all in attendance at the planning meeting the day that the press release was drafted.
MRA representatives attended a workshop that was held at the Bala Community Centre on Thursday, July 24th at 7 PM. Consultants from MHBC Planning gave a brief presentation on the status of the Heritage Conservation District (HCD) plan. They talked about the boundaries, the process, the results of the May 16th public meeting and the views and what lands can and cannot be designated. There was a brief question and answer period before groups were formed to review the boundaries and provide feedback on what they thought was important to protect. Among the questions asked was…whether the Heritage Conservation District can be “used as a tool to try to stop the hydro plant”? Consultant Dan Currie replied that NO, it could not be used to stop the hydro plant. The question and the answer surprised many in our opinion.
The MRA wishes recently resigned Nick Popovich, Township’s Senior Planner, all the best in his new position with the Township of Georgian Bay as Director of Development Services.
The MRA will be holding an All-Candidates Meeting at 10 AM Saturday, September 27th in the Port Carling Community Centre.
To Renew your Membership or to Join the Muskoka Ratepayers' Association
MRA - Board Meeting
Nov 25, 2017 9:00am to 1:00pm
TML - Committee of Adjustment
Dec 13, 2017 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Committee of the Whole
Dec 14, 2017 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Council
Dec 15, 2017 9:00am to 12:00pm