Township Watch - April 2021

The following index should help you in locating an article of particular interest

General/Finance Committee Meeting - Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

Historic Plaque Project

Committee heard a presentation from Susan Daglish regarding the installation of historic plaques throughout the Township of Muskoka Lakes on historic structures.  Mrs. Daglish explained that she is currently serving her second term as a member of the Heritage and Attainable Housing Advisory Committee.  The historic plaque project was presented to the Heritage Committee and the next step in the process was to present to the General/Finance Committee.  Having seen historic plaques in Mount Albert, Mrs. Daglish contacted them and was advised to identify likely houses, research the history of the houses and offer the plaques to property owners.

The project will be done in two phases: first, the development phase which would begin in Port Carling, and second, the completion phase where plaques would be offered throughout the Township of Muskoka Lakes.  The process would be to identify houses built prior to World War II and install plaques that have the name of the original owner, their occupation, and the date the structure was built.  Mrs. Daglish explained that where she is unable to locate historical information, she will require the assistance of the Township as this information will be in their municipal records.  It is estimated that the costs of signs will be $20.00, and Mrs. Daglish feels phase one of the project will cost between $400.00 to $500.00 and hopes the Township will fund this expense.

Committee members were generally in support of the idea but felt that further discussion was required.  It was decided that the project would return to the Heritage Committee to be discussed with the Economic Development and Parks, Trails and Facilities Committees. This item was for information purposes and no resolution was read.

Currie Street On-Street Parking

Director of Public Works, Ken Becking, explained that there is a long history of parking issues on Currie Street in Bala.  The Township put restrictions in place that had unintended consequences a year ago.  Since then, Ward A Councillor Zavitz has spoken to local residents on Currie Street, as well as Bala Park Island residents who use the parking lot at the end of Currie Street.  It was determined that the following conditions would help alleviate these problems:

  • No Parking on the East side of Currie Street
  • Parking allowed on the West side of the street except between Weismiller Street to approximately 1036 Currie Street for passenger vehicles however, boat trailers would be prohibited
  • No Parking from approximately 1036 Currie Street to the end of the street
  • Parking expansion previously approved by Council would not be completed
  • Boat trailers will be directed to Whiting’s Beach Parking Lot in Torrance
  • Angled parking on Weismiller Street
  • Accessible parking on Weismiller Street will be increased from one to two spots
  • Signage will be posted indicating those who violate the regulation will be ticketed and towed

Committee had no questions regarding these restrictions.  A resolution to recommend these restrictions to Council was read and carried.

Bala Creek (Mill Stream) Bridge Update

The District of Muskoka has awarded a contract to repair the Bala Creek Bridge.  Last month Township Council was asked to express what they thought would be the most appropriate time for the work to be completed.  Director of Public Works, Ken Becking informed Committee that the work is to commence on Monday, April 26th, 2021, with a completion date the end of June.

This was for information only: no resolution was read.

Operational Improvement Request for Mortimer’s Point Road

Director of Public Works, Ken Becking updated the Committee on heavy trucks using Mortimer’s Point Road to access the Eveleigh Road landfill.  According to Mr. Becking this has been a problem for many years and as such, suggested that the Township ask the District, the road authority for Mortimer’s Point Road, to complete a road review.  It was suggested that heavy trucks, unless making a local delivery, should access Eveleigh Road via Muskoka Road 118.  It was further suggested that signage be installed indicating that heavy trucks cannot exit onto Mortimer’s Point Road as well as pass a by-law to prohibit their use for a short distance at the end of Eveleigh Road in the vicinity of Mortimer’s Point Road.

Committee members discussed the situation voicing that many members have heard concerns about the situation from the public and that there are other industrial lots on Eveleigh Road that may need access to their property.  Mayor Harding explained that the Township needs to “raise the flag” to engage the District and start the process.

A resolution was read asking the District to undertake an operational review of Mortimer’s Point Road for excess traffic speed and use of heavy trucks, and that Township staff erect signage on Eveleigh Road warning heavy trucks not to exit via Mortimer’s Point Road.  Committee removed the original request to recommend to Council that a by-law be passed to prohibit heavy trucks on a section of Mortimer’s Point Road.  The resolution was voted on and carried.

Municipal Election Voting Methods

Township Clerk, Cheryl Mortimer informed Committee that Muskoka Clerks have been working together in preparation of the 2022 Municipal election.  The Clerks were asking their municipalities to authorize the use of internet and phone voting in the 2022 Municipal election and be authorized to use voters list management services.  Committee did not have any questions.  A resolution was read to recommend both these items to Council was read and carried.

Council Meeting - Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

Site Plan Application “Pulled” for Further Discussion

Prior to the adoption of the Planning Committee minutes of March 11th, 2021 Councillor Kelley requested that a site plan the Planning Committee recommended to Council to approve be “pulled” for further discussion.  The site plan, discussed at the March Planning Committee meeting, was for three “sea cans”, commonly known as shipping containers, to be used as temporary retail space for Water and Ice Limited, the former Boatworks location on the Rosseau side of the Indian River. 

Since the March Planning meeting further concerns had been raised regarding:

  • the Official Plan and Strategic Plan emphasizes that the Township should be preserving the small-town character and these units do not do so
  • the environmental impact from these units as shipping container floors are impregnated with pesticides
  • how a “sea can” is a structure
  • a “sea can” is already on site but did not have a building permit issued for it
  • once windows and doors are cut into these containers, do they not need to be checked for viability
  • questioning whether the Township needs to embrace the use of “sea cans”
  • perhaps the applicant would like to return with new drawings with a more natural form and function on the outside facade more in keeping with the “character” of Muskoka
  • the Township should be feeling pride about what is put in place

Director of Development Services and Environmental Sustainability, David Pink reminded Council that:

  • they cannot dictate what type of building materials are used, and he has been advised that these are no different than any other building material
  • this application had been to Committee of Adjustment for relief from setbacks which was granted
  • the main use of the property was a marina, which allows for retail use as well

Council was given three options on how to proceed with the site plan: a. Refer it back to Council in May; b. Refer it back to the Planning Committee or c. Read the resolution.  Neither the applicant nor the Chief Building Official were present at that meeting to provide answers to questions.  Council voted to defer the application to return directly to the May Council meeting.

Bala Falls Bridge Repair Options

Council heard a presentation from Tatham Engineering Ltd on options for the Bala Falls Bridge.  It was explained that a Class Environmental Assessment was initiated by the Township and completed.  Solutions for the bridge structure were developed and discussed with the public at an online engagement presentation in November 2020.  Information was compiled from this meeting and four alternative solutions were determined: do nothing, remove the bridge, rehabilitate the existing bridge, or replace the bridge.  The representative from Tatham Engineering presented to Council that the technically preferred solution was to replace the bridge.

Director of Public Works, Ken Becking, explained to Council that the “bridge is done” and cannot continue to function in its current state.  Staff believe that a full replacement of the structure is the best option but were looking for direction from Council.  Councillors expressed that:

  • the bridge should be included in the community improvement plan
  • the bridge is a gathering place
  • the unique qualities of the bridge should not be “wiped” away
  • a study should be done with the bridge only being available for pedestrian use for one year
  • the “piers” under the bridge are iconic

Staff listened to the input from Councillors and stated that they had received Council’s input and requested that they be permitted to review suggestions.  No resolution was read.  Mayor Harding requested that staff return with alternatives that would provide the “same look and feel of the current bridge”.  Cost alternatives and safety issues will determine if the new bridge will be one or two lanes.  Until staff has consistent direction from Council it is premature to start to design a new bridge.  The representative from Tatham Engineering full report can be read here - Bala Falls Bridge Bala Falls Bridge

Parking at Township Docks

At the Council meeting a by-law was passed to regulate the use of public docks in the Township.  According to the staff report, boats are allowed to park for four hours at municipal docks free of charge.  At the request of the Windermere Golf and Country Club parking at the Windermere Wharf has been extended to six hours with a permit.  This change was put in place to allow golfers that ability to complete their golf games and perhaps enjoy a meal at either the golf club or Windermere House.

This by-law passed without discussion.

Appointment of Deputy Chief Building Officer and Property Standards Officer

Council voted in favour of appointing Alex Mulholland as the new Deputy Chief Building Official and Property Standards Office.

Planning and Building Service Levels

Director of Development Services and Environmental Sustainability, David Pink informed Council that Planning Services and the Building Department are overwhelmed with demand and the level of customer service that they are proud of is not sustainable.  As such, Mr. Pink regrettably stated that both departments will only be able to facilitate formal applications and general inquires cannot be responded to.

The volume of work is compounded by Planning Services recently receiving a retirement notification from a staff member, which magnifies the fact that six of the seven employees in the department are in new positions.  Staff members are currently working evenings and weekends, and Mr. Pink is concerned about “burn out”.  Unfortunately, some staff members have already left the Township due to the situation.  Some of the workload will be alleviated by the hiring of a seasonal staff member in the building.  Mr. Pink recommended to Council that the Township hire a consultant to work on site plan agreements in Planning Services.

Council held a short discussion on the situation and complimented Mr. Pink on coming forward with the problem.  Councillor Kelley suggested that a communication group be established to inform real estate agents, contractors, and lumber yards that these departments will only be dealing with formal applications. 

This item was for information purpose and no resolution was read.

ED Note: The Muskoka Ratepayers compliment Director Pink and his staff on the exceptional service that they provide to the Township of Muskoka Lakes.  We are confident even with some service level changes that this standard will continue to be the norm.

Planning Committee - Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Crystal Beach Cell Tower

An agent for Bell Mobility presented to Committee a proposal for a mono-pine cellular tower at 1779 Muskoka Road 118 West.  The proposed tower will be less than 100 feet in height and will not require lighting.  The agent explained that there was poor coverage in the area which will help with the increased capacity on weekends and during the summer.  Bell Mobility worked with Transport Canada to identify an appropriate site for the tower.

Property owners in the area voiced concerns regarding health safety and decrease in property values in a submission to Councillors.  Sixteen property owners jointly hired a representative to express their concerns including cell towers causing heart and brain cancer and close proximity to a Rogers cell tower.

When it was questioned why mono-pine towers are above the tree line, it was explained that under the “branches” of the mono-pine are multiple layers of antennas which pick up radio signals.  These antennas cannot be located below the tree line if they are to work to their best capacity.

A resolution was read to recommend to Council that a letter of concurrence be issued to Bell Mobility and copied to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and carried.

Lake Plan for Brandy Lake

Maureen Miller presented the lake plan for Brandy Lake to the Planning Committee.  Ms. Miller explained that Brandy Lake, which is located six kilometers east of Port Carling, has been working on their lake plan.  They have support from 75% of the property owners on the lake, which is made up of 134 lots.  Property owners on Brandy Lake are concerned with protecting not only the health of their lake, but of the watershed of Brandy Creek which is 40 times the size of Brandy Lake and is the sole source that feeds Brandy Lake.

Their lake plan is estimated to be completed in six to eight weeks but will need to be approved and accepted at their Annual General Meeting before it can be submitted to the Township for inclusion in the Official Plan (OP).  David Pink, Director of Development Services and Environmental Sustainability, explained to Ms. Miller that the first draft of the OP is currently being reviewed and the second draft is scheduled to be presented in a month.  Mr. Pink stated that Brandy Lake could approach the Township at a later date once their lake plan has been approved, to have it inserted into the OP.

This item was on the agenda for information and no resolution was read.

Short Term Rental Delegation

Jayne McCaw, owner of Jayne’s Cottages, was at the Planning meeting to express her views on short term rental legislation.  Ms. McCaw explained that this industry has never had rules and regulations in place.  She believes that there are not bad AirBnbs, but bad owners.  If rules of conduct are put in place for renters and agents are contacted if there is a problem the industry works well.  Jayne’s staff meet with renters, ensure that they are aware of rules of conduct such as garbage and noise and asks property owners to provide a binder of rules.  Jayne’s Cottages asks owners who are going to rent to talk to their neighbours and ensure that the neighbours know how to contact her business if there is a problem.  Ms. McCaw stated that she feels that problems can be avoided if penalties are put in place from the start of renting for both renters and owners, that no warnings be issued, and that strict enforcement is necessary.

This item was for information and no resolution was read.

ED Note:  The Muskoka Ratepayers compliment Ms. McCaw for coming forward with her suggestions.

Role of Municipal Land Use Planner

Director of Development Services and Environmental Sustainability, David Pink, explained that this item was on the agenda as questions have been raised on the role of municipal land use planners.  Mr. Pink explained that planners are not advocates for an application but review Provincial guidelines and municipal policies and form an opinion. 

This item was presented at the end of an extremely lengthy planning meeting and no discussion was held.  If you wish more information on the role of municipal land use planners, the staff report can be found here - Planner Role Planner Role

Special Planning Committee Meetings

Township of Muskoka Lakes Official Plan Review

Special Planning Committee meetings were held on Monday, March 29th, 2021, Thursday, April 1st, 2021, Tuesday, April 6th, 2021 and Friday, April 16th, 2021 to review the first draft of the Township of Muskoka Lakes Official Plan (OP).  Members of the Planning Committee and Official Plan Review Working Committee met with consultants from Meridian Planning Consultants to hear proposed policies.  The document  (starting on page 3) - Official Plan - Draft 1 - outlines the Official Plan being put forward in relation to policy directions -Policy Directions Policy Directions - approved by Council.  Policies were reviewed and discussed by committee members.

At the beginning of the second meeting the Director of Development Services and Environmental Sustainability, David Pink, explained the process for the OP review.  Mr. Pink stated that first draft was typically reviewed by the Working Committee and not a public document.   Once this review is completed Draft 2 of the OP will be completed, at which point it will be reviewed by other departments within the Township for comments and then circulated to the District of Muskoka and stakeholders.  There will then be an opportunity for the public to provide input into the OP.  Comments from the public meeting will be complied for review and Draft 3 will be written and re-discussed.  The statutory process will then begin with an open house and formal submission being received.  Once again comments will be reviewed, and Draft 4 will be written.  Draft 4 will be presented to Council for approval.  Once approved by the Township Draft 4 will be forwarded to the District of Muskoka for approval as they are the approval authority. 

A further meeting has been scheduled on Monday, April 26th, 2021 at 9 AM.  A public meeting will be held in the future as outlined above, but the date is not available yet.

ED Note: The Muskoka Ratepayers thank Mr. Pink for explaining the review process to clarify when public input can be received.

District Council - Monday, April 19th, 2021

Daily Start Time for Curbside Collection

A motion passed at the March Engineering and Public Works Committee meeting was ratified by District Council.  At the March Committee meeting Director Mack explained that the District was having difficulties collecting curb side garbage with collection beginning at 8 AM.  This problem is further compounded during heat events.  Director Mack asked Committee to recommend to Council that garbage is placed curbside for collection by 7 AM, a change from 8 AM.  During heat events when temperatures are forecast to be 32 degrees for more than three days, or if the humidex is forecast to reach or exceed 35 degrees garbage pick up in Business Improvement Areas will commence at 6 AM. 

A resolution was read and carried.

The Board of the Muskoka Ratepayers
would like to thank those who participated
in our telephone survey.
Your input was very much appreciated.

Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

TML - Committee of Adjustment
Oct 12, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - General / Finance Committee
Oct 13, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Council
Oct 13, 2021 1:00pm to 5:00pm
TML - Planning Committee
Oct 14, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
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