Township Watch - May 2016

Special Council Meeting - Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

A special council meeting was called regarding The Cove Marina expansion.  As was reported in the April Township Watch (April 2016 - Township Watch) the council agreed in principal to the dock expansions at the marina.   Although both sides did make compromises a mutual agreement was not reached prior to the meeting.  The Cove was willing to reduce the dock length from 90 meters (in the April request) to 70 meters. Concerned community members in the area had agreed to 60 meters which is a difference of six boat slips.  After input from concerned members of the public, Council asked questions regarding:

  • Traffic calming measures which include a no wake zone in the bay,
  • Measure to reduce speed,
  • Was a marina architect used,
  • Choppiness of Foot's Bay with all the boat traffic, and
  • Slips for nearby Oviinbyrd golf course,

It was suggested that the development be phased in with the north dock, The Cove's gas dock, being built first and the south dock the following year.  After discussion and comments, amendments to the resolution were made to permit the dock length as shown on a plan that was to be attached to the resolution and that the south dock would be placed in a “holding zone” until approvals were received by Transport Canada, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and site plan.  These amendments carried at a vote of five to three.  The resolution to give third reading to The Cove expansion was then read and defeated in a tie vote.

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Short Term Cottage Rentals

According to Director of Planning, David Pink, cottage rentals in Muskoka are becoming a large issue with increased complaints that waterfront properties are being rented for shorter periods of time, even as short as one night.  Planning staff emphasized that renting cottages is a long standing tradition in Muskoka which the Township of Muskoka Lakes has always allowed and they were not suggesting that it be regulated.  They were just bringing it to the committee's attention for informal purposes only.  Some municipalities are suggesting that rentals less than 90 days be banned, while others are saying rentals less than 30 days should not be allowed.  Committee members voiced their concerns that:

  • Some people rent their properties to help with property taxes,
  • Good operators were being tarnished by bad apples,
  • Several hundred cottages are rented with no issues,
  • Noise levels are taking away from neighbouring property owners enjoyment of their properties, and
  • Regulating rentals would take away others rights to rent their properties.

It was decided that staff would keep track of the number of complaints registered over the upcoming cottage season, as well as what type of complaints ~ parking, noise, trespass, fireworks etc.

Community Gardens

Director of Public Works, Roger Young, informed the committee that they have had two requests for Community Gardens.  The first was brought forth by Port Carling Community in Bloom who wish to have a small garden in Hanna Park to provide produce for seniors who are unable to afford them.  The second request was from the Milford Bay Community Centre Hall Board to have a garden which will also donate its produce to seniors.  The resolution was passed and will be ratified by Council in June.

Fireworks By-Law

Fire Chief Hayes was before the committee seeking advice on a potential fireworks by-law, to read his full report (Fireworks Fireworks).  This issue was before the committee on April 14th, 2016 and staff was charged with returning it to the committee with options for a by-law regulating use of fireworks in the Township.  Chief Hayes explained that no other municipalities in the district have a fireworks by-law.  It would be very challenging to enforce such a by-law.  However, there does exist an opportunity to educate the public on the proper use of fireworks.  Committee members suggested that a by-law would be hard to enforce, but with no by-law in place there is no way to control fireworks from not being fired nightly, as is happening in one community.  Chief Hayes was requested to draft a by-law for committee to review that would:

  • Restrict use between 8 PM to 11 PM on Saturday and Friday nights,
  • Allow the use of them on statutory holidays,
  • Restrict their use when a fire ban is in place, and
  • Require a permit for special occasion usage.

Chief Hayes will return to the committee with the by-law and then it will need to be ratified by council.

EDITORIAL NOTE: One councillor suggested that the public be consulted on this potential by-law.  If you have concerns for or against this potential by-law, we suggest you contact your municipal councillors.  Use of fireworks is currently regulated by the noise by-law which prohibit their use after 11 PM and the burning by-law which does not allow their use during fire ratings of “high” and “extreme”. 

The Kee to Bala 75th Event

On Saturday, July 16th, 2016 the Kee to Bala will celebrate 75 years of music in Muskoka.  This is a full day celebration with family events running from 12 PM to 5 PM including tours of the Kee which include the history of the venue, outdoor live music, live radio broadcasts.  Ticketed and licensed events will begin at 8 PM to 2 AM with an outdoor stage for numerous rock and roll bands.  Promoters of the event anticipate upwards of 2,500 in attendance for the evening.

Following a committee discussion that included the following concerns:

  • It is not only the outdoor music but people walking around and talking at night,
  • Why there had to be no parking on Bala Falls Road on Friday night,
  • How long will event preparation be on Friday night,
  • Location of port-a-potties,
  • This event is a one day street party, and
  • Outdoor music should be stopped at 12 AM or 1 AM not 1:30 AM as requested.

A resolution was read that:

  • Allowed Bala Falls Road to be closed from Walkers Street to Highway 169 from 5 PM Saturday to 11 AM Sunday,          
  • No parking signs be posted on Bala Falls Road from 10 PM Friday to 11 AM Sunday,
  • An exemption to the noise by-law be given from 11 PM Saturday to 1 AM Sunday and
  • A letter of municipal support be written for a temporary extension of the Kee's liquor license for the event. 

This resolution carried and must now be ratified by Council in June.

Council - Friday, May 13th, 2016

2016 Final Tax Rates

As previously reported Council passed the 2016 budget on March 18th, 2016 (March 2016 - Township Watch).  Treasurer, Shannon Johnson, presented the final tax rate for 2016 which indicated that the Township of Muskoka Lakes has the lowest residential tax rate of all the municipalities in the District of Muskoka.  Of the taxes charged to Township residential property owners 51% of the levy goes to the District, 31% to various School Boards, while 18% remain in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.  A complete breakdown of taxes can be found here (Tax Information Tax Information

Support For Fort McMurray

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) challenged municipal goverments to “donate in support of those affected by the devastating Fort McMurray Wildfires in Alberta”.  After a brief discussion Council voted to donate $5,000.00 to the Fort McMurray Disaster relief efforts.

Campbell Strategies ~ Police Service Costs

Campbell Strategies has been lobbying the Provincial government on behalf of the Township of Muskoka Lakes regarding OPP costing.  As Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay are also effected by the police services costs within the District of Muskoka, they too participated.  Mayor Furniss reported to Council that the three Chief Administrative Officers attended a meeting for the Police Services Act and meetings have taken place with policy advisors.  Although headway is being made with the current “funding formula for the sharing of police service costs with the District of Muskoka” the Township will be carrying $3.3 million dollars of costs.  Council voted four to three in favour of extending Campbell Strategies’ agreement to obtain a fair funding formula.

District Reports

Councillor Harding, Chair of Engineering and Public Works at the District, reported to Council that a contractor was not found to rebuild the small locks this spring as scheduled.   To ensure that the locks are available for public use this coming season a temporary repair was completed, and the locks will be rebuilt next year.

Closed Session

A resolution from closed session read that “Bala Falls Road be updated to include a commemorative naming and a memorial plaque honouring the late Gerry Dunn be placed in the vicinity of The Kee to Bala, formally Dunn's Pavilion, in recognition of the lasting impact of Gerry Dunn and Dunn's Pavilion, to the community of Bala and the Township of Muskoka Lakes”.  The Director of Public Works, Councillor Nishikawa and a representative from the Dunn family will arrange for the wording and location of the plaque.

The MRA wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable May long weekend.



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