Township Watch - May 2014


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Late Breaking News - Another Resignation

The MRA is saddened to learn Treasurer Steven Rettie has resigned from the Township

Brock and Willa Wellness Centre

At council on Friday, May 16th the Township of Muskoka Lakes accepted a gift of land on which to establish the “Brock and Willa Wellness Centre” in Port Carling in exchange for a tax receipt for the fair market value of the land. 

Council Chamber Audio System

The MRA was pleased to learn that a council chamber sound system is moving forward.  Township Clerk Cheryl Mortimer informed council that the Township had received submissions for the audio system, with a capacity to add video at a later date if so desired.  It is hoped that the system will be installed prior to the next round of council meetings.

Council Code of Conduct

The District of Muskoka has established a draft Code of Conduct (“The Code”) in conjunction with a procedural by-law, which Mayor Murphy presented to the Township council.  As Mayor Murphy had already spent a substantial amount of time working on the code at the District level she said she would be happy to do the necessary work to adapt it for the Township.  Once adapted the code will be circulated to councillors and reviewed by the Clerk.

Muskoka Woods Camp

Muskoka Woods Camp delegated at the Planning meeting on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 with a proposal to effectively double their gross floor area.  They explained that this is a 20 year plan they are working on which would cost 40 million dollars…with 14 million being spent locally on material and contractors.  Two public meetings have been held as well as two others with the North Lake Rosseau Association (NLRA).  A representative from the NLRA also delegated on May 20th stating there is high interest in this development from a number of people on Lake Rosseau. Muskoka Woods were thanked for their openness and honesty.  After much discussion regarding sewage, the waterfront, noise levels, heights of buildings, setbacks, accommodations and a reminder from Director of Planning David Pink that two years of planning had gone into the application, council voted to circulate this proposal.

Bala Heritage Conservation District

The MRA attended the Bala Heritage District Open House on Friday, May 16th, 2014.  The presentation, by Township hired consultants, informed those in attendance that the proposed Heritage District in Bala only included two buildings, one of which already has its own heritage designation…the privately owned Burgess Memorial Church.   

Lands in the proposed area largely belong to; the District of Muskoka, the Province of Ontario (MNR) and Canadian Pacific Railway.  When questioned about these lands not belonging to the Township, the consultant confirmed that a municipality cannot designate lands that belong to a higher level of government.  This meeting was the first “study” stage of a proposed Heritage Conservation District for Bala.

Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) Entrance Permits

SREL’s entrance permits applications were added to the COW agenda of May 20th, 2014 as Mayor Murphy felt Commissioner White’s report from the District of Muskoka had not fully taken into account Township concerns.  A response resolution was drafted asking the District engineering and public works committee, of which Councillor Harding is a member, to deny the permits.

SREL along with ten other delegations, delegated at the District’s engineering and public works committee on Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 regarding entrance and roadway occupation permits.   While some presenters voiced concerns regarding the entrance permits for safety reasons, as well as concerns regarding pedestrian and vehicle traffic, many wanted to await the judicial appeal results due in July regarding portage rights.  After several questions for Karen McGhee, project manager for SREL, the committee had an extensive discussion regarding the resolution put forth by Commissioner White.  Commissioner White repeatedly stated that the District has never denied someone access to their own property and that they did not have a right to do so.  The resolution was made up of six asking points.  The biggest point of contention was SREL’s request to widen the shoulder of Muskoka Road #169 to allow their trucks a place to pull over during construction, thus avoiding traffic congestion.  Councillor Harding asked that this provision be denied.  Councillors from two other municipalities stated they were “bewildered” as to why Councillor Harding made this request as it would obviously cause traffic delays.  However; if that was what Muskoka Lakes Township wanted, they would support the denial of widening the road. 

In conclusion, the entrance permits were granted effective October 20th, 2014 with the permit to widen the road being denied.

(Editorial Note ~ In error, we initially reported that presenters asked the committee to deny issuing the entrance permits, we apologize for this.)

MRA observations on Council

Several members of council continue to lose focus of the issues placed in front of them to discuss and make a decision on. 

Councillors repeatedly raise issues/questions that have no relevance to the application before them and or perhaps outside the purview of the Township’s mandate.  These irrelevant discussions continue to waste valuable time, sometimes causing items to be removed from the agenda due to time constraints. These delays and deferrals as well as costing a lot of time is often insensitive to the party/taxpayer needing a timely decision.

Also we find the use of street idiomatic slang such as “my bad” is juvenile, unprofessional, and has no place at the council table.


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