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To use Mayor Murphy’s own words, the Township of Muskoka Lakes is off to an “expensive start”! On Friday March 14th, Public Works informed Council that the $105,000.00 budgeted to repair Weismiller and Acton Island docks was no longer sufficient. It was determined that the docks must be replaced, not repaired and more monies were needed. $112,000.00 was withdrawn from parks reserves to cover this short fall. While the reason for this withdrawal is valid, it emphasizes the need to replenish the reserves.
During this cycle of meetings, three new municipal by-laws were discussed. The first was a road load limit on township roads and bridges. As the current by-law reads, load restrictions are put in place from approximately March 1st to May 31st yearly. The resolution that was discussed at Committee of the Whole (COW) on Monday, March 17th was to change the dates to run from January 1st to December 31st every year. This by-law is to allow for “greater flexibility in protecting the asset (roadways) when it is determined that the asset is not able to bear regulation highway loads.” Councillor Brent suggested that it would be wise to speak to contractors regarding these restrictions as it is unfair to change the rules without letting the public know first.
Although the dark sky by-law had been sent back to staff for “enhancing”, according to Councillor Kruckle the committee did not meet prior to the by-law returning to COW. Even though councillors had asked that a quantitative level of light measurement be included in the by-law this amendment had not been made. Following the discussion, the resolution was carried with staff being instructed to use their expertise to determine an acceptable level of lumins and to extend the full public compliance date to January 1st, 2025.
The final by-law to be discussed was the site alteration, blasting & explosive by-law. Staff had been requested to place this by-law on the planning committee agenda. Although the current by-law does not specify blasting, it deals with it through site alteration. Many suggestions were put forth on how to proceed with this by-law. One councillor stated that the committee was on a “slippery slope” and questioned if they even had the expertise to deal with this issue. At Mayor Murphy’s request Councillor Kruckle was asked to “take the lead” on researching other municipalities that have passed similar by-laws.
The road load by-law and dark sky by-law will now proceed to Council for adoption.
Mr Lyle Quan, senior fire consultant from Emergency Management and Training Inc. presented to COW on Monday, March 17th. The fire master plan was a four month project that included surveys (to fire fighters, staff and the community) and reviews of the fire stations’, data and past reports in order to provide recommendations to the committee. It was reported that in several parts of the township the fire department exceeds the Provincial standard in response times, but it is lacking in some of the smaller/remote areas of the township. Although Mr. Quan presented different scenarios regarding what could be done in the township, including the closure of the Glen Orchard and Torrance fire halls, it is ultimately up to council to decide on the level of fire service that they deem necessary for the township.
Mayor Murphy, Councillors Harding & Nishikawa were not happy with the report, as according to them, among other issues it did not provide the number and type of fire trucks that were required or show a summary of costs. Councillor Harding stated that he felt the report was a “superficial overview” and questioned if pumper trucks were needed in every fire station throughout the township. Mr Quan emphasized that his presentation was based on the request to collect data on response times. His presentation outlines what recommendations could be made and that a good foundation is now present for Chief Hayes to make decisions based on direction of council.
Councillors Edwards and Baranick both stated that prior to making any decisions regarding reducing the level of fire service in the township, public meetings needs to be held.
(Editorial Note - In case there are reduction in services you may want to check with your insurance carriers to enquire what the ramifications would be on your policy should your fire station be closed.)
In the past, township staff have researched and written the by-laws, but that does not appear to be the case any longer. The MRA wonders why it the Mayor and councillors are now doing this themselves.
The MRA is concerned about councillors leaving municipal council and committee meetings to attend District meetings. If the municipal and district meetings were not scheduled on the same week this would not be an issue.
In the MRA’s opinion it is unfortunate that yet another professional was not treated with the level of politeness and courtesy that should be expected in a public forum.
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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