Township Watch - May 2021

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

General/Finance Committee ~ Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

Mill Stream Bridge

As reported in the April Township Watch - Township Watch - April 2021 - the District of Muskoka sought input from the Township on a good time to do repairs on the “Bala Creek Bridge”.  When signage was posted local residents voiced displeasure with the bridge being called the “Bala Creek Bridge”, as it is known locally as the “Mill Stream Bridge”.  Township Clerk, Cheryl Mortimer located paperwork which identified the stream as the Mill Stream.  Bridges above are normally named for the water body that they cross.

The District was agreeable to amending the name of the bridge.  A resolution to request that the District rename the “Bala Creek Bridge” to the “Mill Stream Bridge” was read and carried.

Torrance Barrens Special Committee Update

Councillor Nishikawa, Chair of the Parks & Trails Committee and Township representative on the Torrance Barrens Special Committee provided a verbal update on the Torrance Barrens (The Barrens).  According to Councillor Nishikawa , The Barrens Special Committee continue to meet monthly, and their work is going “very well”.  Councillor Nishikawa reported that the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) have submitted a formal request to re-designate The Barrens from a Conservation Reserve to a Public Park.  Although it was acknowledged that the MECP has an understanding of Conservation & Parks, some believe they do not acknowledge the importance of a dark sky reserve.  Councillor Nishikawa explained that a request may come to the General/Finance Committee to highlight the importance of the dark sky reserve from the Township.

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

Heritage Building Plaques

In April Susan Daglish made a presentation to Committee on heritage building plaques being installed throughout the Township - Township Watch - April 2021.  In follow up to the presentation Communication & Economic Development Specialist, Corey Moore, updated Committee on the two requests made of the Township on the project: information and funding.  Mr. Moore explained privacy rules would not permit the Township to release private information. 

Both the Muskoka Lakes Museum and Port Carling Library have demonstrated interest in helping obtain the necessary information.  Further, the museum has offered to either help with funding for the project or coordinating funding.

Concerns were raised that this project began at a Township Advisory Committee level, but it does not seem to be staying with the Township.  It was mentioned that if the museum was in charge, it is “highly unlikely” that Walker’s Point will “be dealt with” the same way as Port Carling.  Furthermore, the museum already receives a community grant, and the two funding streams should be clearly separated.

Staff have spoken with Mrs. Daglish and she understands and is supportive of the directions the project is taking.  Staff saw the project as a partnership with the community and would expand to other communities in the Township.  Mrs. Daglish has been raising volunteers to help with the project as well.

A resolution was read recommending to Council that the project be approved, with funds from the Heritage and Attainable Housing Advisory Committee operating budget.  The resolution carried.

Licensed Cannabis Retail Locations

Communication & Economic Development Specialist, Corey Moore, explained that a request was made in March to re-discuss cannabis stores in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.  Mr. Moore reminded Committee that in January 2019 Council voted to “opt out” of allowing cannabis locations in the Township.  Mr. Moore further reminded committee that municipalities that ‘opted out’ have the ability to ‘opt in’ at a later date, but once you ‘opt in’ you are locked in and cannot ‘opt out’.

Members of Committee held a discussion that included, but was not limited to:

  • municipalities do not have the ability to decide where stores will be located,
  • all other municipalities in the District ‘opted in’,
  • these stores are in demand and are needed by those who use cannabis for medical reasons,
  • not being sure why this item was being re-discussed as nothing has changed,
  • Councillors are not receiving correspondence saying the stores are necessary,
  • there is no benefit to the Township to ‘opt in’ at this point,
  • the stores are not necessary,
  • no economic benefit of ‘opting in’ has been raised,
  • will these stores “squeeze out” other retail in towns, and
  • it is not a matter of liking the product or not, but what is wanted in the Township’s retail world.

As members of Committee did not feel that they had all the necessary information to make a decision, this item was referred back to the Economic Development Committee.

Prior to continuing with the meeting, CAO Hammond questioned what members of the General/Finance Committee wanted staff to do.  Chair of the Economic Development Committee, Councillor Kelley said no further work was required by staff at this time.  The committee would meet and discuss the economic implications of cannabis stores in the Township, which may then require further work by staff.

No resolution was read.

Council ~ Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

Shipping Containers Pulled for Further Discussion

As permitted in the Procedural By-Law a discussion was held on the use of shipping containers, sometimes referred to as “sea cans”, after being removed from the consent agenda.  The application to use shipping containers as retail space in Port Carling had been defeated at the April Planning Committee meeting due to health and safety concerns and the shipping containers not suiting the character of Port Carling.

The applicant, Eric Ballance, was present to address concerns raised the previous month.  Mr. Ballance explained that he had spent time researching the topic of pesticides in the shipping containers.  Floor boards in shipping containers are sprayed with insecticides to keep bugs out, but the chemicals are clearly displayed on the “data plate” on the outside of the unit.

At the very beginning of the discussion Councillor Zavitz asked if Mr. Ballance would be willing to remove and replace the floor boards, sandblast the metal and repaint the shipping containers.  Mr. Ballance said he would be willing to do so.  With Mr. Ballance’s agreement to complete the requested steps, Council voted on a resolution to allow the shipping containers to be used as retail space.  The resolution carried.

A site plan application for three shipping containers to be used as retail space by Water & Ice Limited on the Rosseau side of the Indian River was then re-discussed.  These shipping containers are for temporary retail space for three years.  The applicant stated they these shipping containers were washed and then painted inside and out.  They too agreed to the removal of the floor boards of their shipping containers.

With the agreement to remove the floor boards of the shipping containers added to the resolution, Council voted to approve the site plan agreement.

Appointment of Staff

Mayor Harding read resolutions to appoint:

  • Mark Ridgwell as a Building Inspector for the Township.
  • Robert Kennedy as the Chief By-Law Enforcement Officer and a Property Standards Officer.
  • Grace Heywood as a seasonal By-Law Enforcement Officer and a Property Standards Officer.

ED Note: The Muskoka Ratepayers compliments the Township on increasing the number of by-law officers.    

Currie Street Parking By-Law CORRECTION

Prior to approving the by-law restricting parking on Currie Street in Bala, Councillor Zavitz raised concerns that the wrong address on Currie Street was included in the by-law.  Councillor Zavitz said parking on the west side of Currie St. Should be to 1021 Currie Street, not 1036 Currie Street.

Director of Public Works, Ken Becking, explained that as long as a physical description is included in the by-law, it is satisfactory.  The by-law was read and carried.

Planning Committee ~ Thursday, May 13th, 2021

Race Boat Museum

The Township received an application for a race boat museum and special events centre, as well as a storage building and butcher shop that already exists on the property.  Staff explained that the property is currently restricted to a “meat cutting facility” and landscaping.  The applicant was requesting that the restricted uses be changed to “meat cutting facility” and special events venue.  The full application can be read here -Application Application Supporting documentation can be read here: Environmental Impact Study - Environmental ImpactHydrogeology Study - Hydrology, Pinestone Engineering Ltd Report - Stormwater Management and Canadian RaceBoat Hall of Fame -Raceboat Hall of Fame.

Following the introduction of the application, objections that were submitted in writing were read and included concerns regarding:

  • lot coverage on the property,
  • increase noise from events & road traffic,
  • privacy,
  • safety
  • liability,
  • light pollution,
  • safety on Muskoka Road 118 West,
  • change in use of the property, and
  • drainage.

Prior to continuing to public input, staff explained that they recommend that the application be deferred.

Agent for the applicant began his presentation by stating that they support a deferral to discuss the impacts on the neighbours.  He then explained that the applicant had already received approval for a race boat museum in Port Carling, but the site was not adequate in size to showcase wooden boats and their drivers.  All necessary studies were completed, except a traffic study as they had originally been told it was not required.

Members of the public then had an opportunity to speak and voiced concerns regarding:

  • stormwater management,
  • noise & light pollution,
  • traffic,
  • run off from a hard surface is not the same as a natural field,
  • water run off will contaminate Lake Muskoka,
  • boats racing in their bay on Lake Muskoka, and
  • their water source being from Lake Muskoka.

The applicant assured Committee and the public that there will be no activity on the water as it is a dry land museum.

Members of the Planning Committee discussed that application raising concerns that:

  • this event centre will be located on the scenic corridor,
  • they were challenged as this property is located at the “entrance” to the Township,
  • this is a significant change of use for the area, as it is a quiet residential area, and
  • events could get out of control so there should be an on-site manager.

Committee agreed to a deferral and no resolution was read.


The Muskoka Ratepayers congratulate Jayne Sieber and Andrea Glazier on their retirement from their positions in the Planning Department at the Township.

Due to COVID-19 the Muskoka Ratepayers
Annual General Meeting
will once again be held electronically.
The date has not yet been determined.
COVID-19 has also cancelled the paper copy of our Yearbook.
An electronic version will be sent to our members.

Upcoming Events - Monthly Calendar

TML - Committee of Adjustment
Nov 8, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - General / Finance Committee
Nov 10, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
TML - Council
Nov 10, 2021 1:00pm to 5:00pm
TML - Planning Committee
Nov 11, 2021 9:00am to 12:00pm
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