Township Watch - October 2017

Committee of the Whole - Thursday, October 12, 2017

Canadian Race Boat Hall of Fame

Three private citizens presented to the committee the idea of creating a centre of Canadian History in Port Carling, using the Boatworks for a Canadian Race Boat Hall of Fame.  Muskoka was chosen as the location as boat building/racing has been part of Muskoka's history and four Hall of Fame boat drivers are in Muskoka.  Port Carling was chosen as boat races have been held there and it is the location of the Boatworks.  All the boats will be on loan except for Miss Supertest III which has been acquired and already relocated to Muskoka.    One of the Hall of Fame boat drivers stated that he “felt it was a tremendous opportunity for Muskoka”.  The group requested that Council provide a letter of support which would be shown to sponsors; the committee agree to provide same.  This item was on the agenda for information purposes only.

Short Term Accommodation By-Law

This item has been before the committee on many occasions, most recently in June (Township Watch - June) when staff were requested to return with a draft by-law.  Director of Planning, David Pink, explained that the draft by-law - Short Term Rentals Short Term Rentals - before the committee was open for discussion and further explained that the most notable points in the draft were:

  • that “short term accommodation” is defined as “the rental of a building for any period less than 30 consecutive calendar days throughout all or any part of the calendar year”,
  • short term rentals will require a licence,
  • those applying for licences will be required to provide the Township with a “parking management plan”, “property management plan”, and a floor plan of the building with proposed occupancy,
  • a “Renter's Code” which will be signed by both the property owner and the renter.  This will serve as the renter's 'first warning' against bad behaviour if a complaint is filed and by-law enforcement or the OPP need to be called,
  • records of rentals must be kept for one year,
  • a responsible person must be able to respond to the property within one hour if a complaint is registered,
  • the Township must be allowed onto the property to do inspections, and
  • licences will be valid for two years at a fee of $1,500.00 to $2,500.00.

Mr. Pink stated that prior to passing a by-law, the Official Plan will need to be amended to recognize short term rentals and to actually allow them.  Then the comprehensive zoning by-law will need to be amended to allow the use of short term rentals and define where they may or may not occur.  And lastly, a licencing by-law would need to be passed.  This would put additional work on staff in the planning department, building department and fire services....which staff may not be able to handle.  Mr. Pink also emphasized that extensive public input into the by-law would be required.

Although members of the committee agreed that a licencing by-law was needed, they did not share the same views on the draft by-law before them.  Committee members felt:

  • that the by-law was “going in the right direction”,
  • two years was too short a time for a licence,
  • there are a few “bad apples” causing problems and this by-law was using “a sledgehammer” to deal with them,
  • many people in Muskoka rent their cottages to subsidize their taxes,
  • there would be a huge “kick back” by responsible property owners,
  • the by-law will impact a couple of thousand property owners when only half a dozen are causing problems,
  • once the Township is advised that properties are being rented, the Township will be required to enforce the by-law which will be very time consuming and expensive for the Township.

Mr. Pink reminded the committee that Council already has by-laws at their disposal (noise, parking, building, etc.) to help regulate those who are behaving badly and causing a disturbance.  It was also pointed out that there is nothing in place to regulate actual property owners who behave badly.  Following the discussion, it was unanimously decided that a steering committee would be established to review the situation and make recommendations to Council.  The steering committee will be comprised of a councillor from each ward, as well as members of the public.

This item was on the agenda for information purposes and to give staff direction.  No resolution was read.

(Editorial Note: The Muskoka Ratepayers' Association has been asked to sit on the steering committee.  If you have comments or concerns about the Short Term Accommodation By-Law please forward them and we will take them forward on your behalf.)

Community Centre Asset Management Plan

Director of Public Works, Roger Young, explained that as part of the Strategic Plan passed by Council public works was to evaluate the Community Centres.  Their assessment has found that the state of the Township's twelve year-round Community Centres was quite sound.  A building condition index (BCI) of the current state of each structure was completed.   All Community Centres had a 10-year average BCI of less than one percent, with the highest being 0.66%.  A BCI of 5% or less indicates that buildings are in “good” general building conditions.  The results indicated that the Township's Community Centre infrastructure in healthy.

This item was for information purposes only and no resolution was read.  The full report broken down by Community Centres can be found here - Community Centres Community Centres

Disposal of the Duke House

Mr. Young also presented to the committee a report on the Duke House located at 90 Joseph Street in Port Carling.  The house was bought in 2007 by the Township in the amount of $434,178.00 and since then $457,877.00 has been spent on it.  The Duke House has been used as the Visitors Centre since its purchase, run either by the Township or the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce.  With the amount of money spent on the property to date, and the MPAC assessment of $197,000.00, Mr. Young felt that disposal of the property was hard to rationalize.  Three options were put forth:

  • that the property be sold by the Township with staff doing the marketing, etc.
  • that a request for proposal be issued for Realtors
  • that the Duke House be retained and leased

Committee voted to obtain professional proposals on selling and/or renting out the property.

2018 Skating School and Gala

The Port Carling Figure Skating Club requested rental of the Port Carling Arena the week of Monday, August 20th to Friday, August 24th for the Brian Orser skating school.   As well, that fees be waived for the Gala Demonstration on Saturday, August 25th for the use of the arena and Port Carling Community Centre for the VIP reception.  This resolution carried.

Council - Friday, October 13, 2017

Commemorative Naming

Mayor Furniss began the Council meeting with a request to rename the committee room in the Township offices.  On October 1, 2017 the Township lost Wendy Oliver to illness, a valued employee of 19 years.  As Wendy had spent months reviewing and updating files in the committee room, Mayor Furniss asked Council to rename the room the Wendy Oliver Room.  There were tears at the Council table and the audience as Council voted unanimously to do so.

The Royal Canadian Legion

Representatives from the Royal Canadian Legion were before Council looking for approval for a retirement home in Bala.  The proposed four storey 133,342 square foot structure is to have 128 units, a 78 foot high atrium and common areas.  The current Legion would be renovated into a medical clinic and Legion bar.  The architect for the project explained that this project is to be a prototype for Legions across Canada.  It was acknowledged that this is a big development for the Town of Bala and it should be done “right” without causing problems for the community.  The architect spoke about the height of the building, fire access, road access, capacity restriction, as well as lot coverage.

Although not opposed to the proposed retirement home in principal, members of the public voiced concerns regarding the height of the building, lack of garden space, privacy of neighbours, lighting and that the project looked industrial.  Councillors then discussed that:

  • they were supportive of the project,
  • would consider a height of 50 feet not 78,
  • green space is integral to healthy living,
  • a roof top terrace could be added,
  • fire services would not be compromised by the height of the structure,
  • quality of life would be better with the atrium as it gives natural light.

A resolution with a reduced height of 55 feet was read and carried.

Road Closures

Maple Avenue and Victoria Street will be closed on Saturday, December 2nd, with portions of Burgess Avenue and River Street in Bala between 5:30 to 10PM for the Trek to Bethlehem.

A portion of Bailey Street in Port Carling will be closed from 5 to 8 PM on Saturday, November 18th for the Port Carling Santa Claus Parade.

Bala Falls Road, along with portions of Burgess Avenue, Victoria Street and Maple Avenue will be closed from 12 noon to 3 PM on Sunday, November 12th for the Bala Santa Claus Parade.

(Editorial Note - Please note that the Bala parade is being held on SUNDAY this year as it conflicted with Remembrance Day).


A report on District of Muskoka Council Composition has been posted
on our website.
Keep checking here for District information.

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