Township Watch - Fall 2012


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Message from our President

A problem can be either an obstacle or an opportunity. When our long time administrator, Pat Sinclair had to leave us for personal reasons, her departure created some “transition challenges”. We are still identifying emails, letters or phone calls that went unanswered. Our ability to distribute our “Township Watch” suffered as well. We have been working hard to fill the void left by Pat’s departure, and have most of the problems solved and finally we can now send out Township Watch.

This is a three in one deal. You have received this whether you are a current member or a member from our recent past. If you do not wish to receive these emails, there is an option at the bottom to unsubscribe.  If you are unsure of your current membership status, please contact our new Administrative Assistant, Dee. You can reach her by phone at 705-765-0022, by email at muskokaratepayers@vianet.ca, or by mail at PO Box 336, Port Carling, Ontario, P0B 1J0.

We have been working with a web site consultant to improve our current web site (www.muskokaratepayers.ca) to improve its appearance, navigation, and membership sections. Please visit it to get current information and watch for regular updates and upgrades.

Susan Daglish

President

TOWNSHIP WATCH - October 1, 2012

There were several by-laws that received first, second and third reading at the Township Council meeting of October 1, 2012.  The one that generated the most discussion was regarding mandatory on-site management 24/7 at local resorts. Margaret Walton from Planscape delegated on behalf of Ken Fowler and Lakeside Lodge.  They requested that the proposed by-law be deferred for further clarification.  A lengthy discussion ensued, and the by-law was passed by Council by a vote of 6-2.  Not all present resorts would be required to comply with this as they are considered to be legally non-compliant.

The Township of Muskoka Lakes has hired a By-Law Officer who will divide his time between by-law enforcement and the fire department.

The Township Treasurer reported that the township will be applying for grants to enhance the website and to provide accessibility at the Ullswater Hall.

At The Committee Of The Whole (COW) meeting on October 2, 2012 Lakeside Lodge was discussed with members of the public delegating against the proposed year round resort providing 59 housekeeping units.  A few of the main concerns were that there would no on-site maintenance, staff housing, obstructed view and the Lodge’s old Muskoka fieldstone fireplace.  Margaret Walton representing Ken Fowler stated the development would be on a private sewage system and have on-site amenities.  Mrs. Walton said they would be happy to keep the existing fireplace.

Although the current Mayor and Council speak of economic development, their many immediate concerns and objections when an application is brought forth may give the perception that Township Council is actually “anti” economic development.

It has been proposed that the Township of Muskoka Lakes Council should alter their meeting schedules to once a month instead of every 3 weeks.  The Council feels that it is an opportunity to save money and the interim CAO is promoting this change.

TOWNSHIP WATCH - October 22, 2012

At the October 22nd Township Council meeting Township Clerk, Cheryl Mortimer was presented with a Membership Service Award from AMCTO for her years of service.

Several by-laws were brought forth and quickly passed.  It became apparent during one discussion that Mayor Murphy and some of the Council felt they did not have sufficient information on a deeming by-law, so moving forward staff has been asked to prepare reports on such by-laws.

Fire Chief Richard Hayes reported on an agreement between the Red Cross and the Township of Muskoka Lakes.  He stated that if a major emergency impacted our community and if evacuation was required, it would be a difficult task for the Township to manage.  He suggested strongly that the Township sign up for The Red Cross service.

You may have seen on CTV News that John Curran, acting CAO, presented a report on the “Exotic Animal By-Law 2012-133” which was compiled by a group that consisted of himself, Trevor George (Township By-Law Officer), Councillor Donelda Kruckel, Councillor Don Furniss and Dr. Nanda Guha, owner of Guha’s Tiger and Lion Farm.  An extensive discussion ensued regarding the need to define a “zoo” within the township.  Several councillors stated that they could not support the by-law as it was written due to the lack of both definition and clarification.   Dr. Guha gave a brief presentation and again extended an invitation to Council to view his property so that they could form their own opinions.  The by-law was put to first and second readings and passed unanimously.

The Township has hired Christopher Wray as the new Chief Administrative Officer.  Mr. Wray is presently the CAO of Wawa and will commence his duties on December 10, 2012.    Mr. Curran will continue as interim CAO until that date.

At the District of Muskoka meeting on October 22, 2012 the Bala canoe portage was one of the topics of discussion.  Many questions were asked about this issue, as several district councillors did not have enough information on the local issue.  Although some councillors supported the issue and some had concerns - the motion was carried.

Another topic of interest was the potential of an international flight school at the Muskoka Airport.  A delegation informed District Council that if given approval to proceed, it would train 20 international students at a time, for a fee of $ 50,000 to $ 55,000 per student.  The flight school would have 5 aircraft, 2 engineers and several instructors.  This economic development would bring several million dollars per year to the District.  Following the delegation, District Council went into Closed Session.  Upon returning to Open Session the proposal was rejected, and to our knowledge no reason has been provided.

TOWNSHIP WATCH - November 12, 2012

It was a very interesting Council Meeting.  One of the topics of discussion was the reduced speed limit on highway 169 between Bala and Gravenhurst in the Torrance area.   Although the District of Muskoka voted to reduce the speed limit, it was sent back to Township Council and since then a ground swell of opposition has emerged.  Due to exorbitant costs, a traffic light is not an option.  A flashing amber warning light was given Township approval at Committee of the Whole.

During a discussion regarding a Heritage Designation for the former Edenvale Inn property in Port Carling, Mayor Murphy stepped down from the Chair so that she could take part in the discussion.  The Mayor reported that the Heritage Society wants the “property” designated, not the building. There are 24 attributes that have been tagged to be included in the designation.  The property was given Heritage Designation.  Property owner Shawn Leon delegated for himself at both Council and COW.  At COW, the Township's planner asked Council to put it into writing that Mr. Leon could demolish buildings once a Heritage Designation is given, although demolition is not usually allowed.

The Director of Public Works reported on the re-alignment of Ferndale Road.  Council felt that Council's and neighbours` concerns had been addressed and that the re-alignment was the safest for all involved.

Although, Mayor Murphy made several valid points at Council - two By-Laws passed that she was not in favour of.  It is unfortunate that during the COW meeting the Mayor does not hand over her “seat” to the Councillor who is chairing the meeting as it gives the gallery the impression that the mayor is still “the chair”, which she is not.

At District Council on Monday night, the major issue was rescheduling Council meetings at both the Municipal and District Levels from every three weeks to once a month.  Huntsville’s Council has already altered their schedules.  Bracebridge Councillors are very opposed to the change stating that ALL councillors knew the schedule when they ran for office and that meetings should not be altered for the convenience of councillors.  Township Mayor, Alice Murphy spoke in favour of monthly meetings, saying they would be more efficient, shorter and it would make the staff’s job easier.   Our Township is unique in that it has more planning issues than other Municipalities.  If meetings are moved to once a month instead of every three weeks, this department could become even further back logged.

There was an excellent presentation at the Planning portion of COW given by Derrick Hammond, District Director of Planning Services on the history of the Village of Minett.  The village has gone through many zoning changes over the years and since 2008 has been known as a “Resort Village”.

Brooklyn Farms in Milford Bay was given the Township’s stamp of approval for an events centre on their property.  Katya Riley, representing the family, gave an informative presentation which was well received by Council.

 

We invite and encourage you to tell us how you feel about all this. You can contact us at:

Muskoka Ratepayers’ Association
Box 336, Port Carling,
Ontario, P0B 1J0

Email:   muskokaratepayers@vianet.ca

Phone: 705-765-0022

Web site: http://www.muskokaratepayers.ca

 

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