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The Council meeting began with Mayor Harding giving a touching tribute to those who lost their lives in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks 18 years ago. Mayor Harding asked those in attendance to recognize the first responders who gave their lives so others could live, followed by a moment of silence.
Since 1988 the Township of Muskoka Lakes has held an annual Mayor's Golf Tournament. As we previously reported, this year Mayor Harding decided to hold a family inclusive event on Canada Day. Monies raised at this event were presented to Andy's House Hospice Muskoka and Muskoka Victim Services at the Council meeting in the amount of $59,204.00. The monies were divided $10,000.00 to Victim Services and $49,204.00 to Andy's House. Mayor Harding stated that, although the event may be moved from Canada Day in 2020, he will host another family fun day.
Director of Public Works, Ken Becking, informed Council that he had presented a draft parking by-law to Committee of the Whole in March and was returning with a final draft and seeking Council approval. The previous by-law was written in 1991 based on a Municipal Act that had been super-ceded twice. The final draft by-law in front of Council would bring the Township into compliance with the Municipal Act with a more rigorous approach than the previous by-law. This draft is written more “cut and dry” for the by-law officer to be able to write citations. Mr. Becking explained that the final draft by-law allows:
It was mentioned to Mr. Becking that the library parking lot has been omitted from the by-law. Mr. Becking suggested that the by-law be passed and an amendment be added at a later date to include all Township properties including the library, community centres and docks.
Councillor Edwards raised the issue of individuals leaving their vehicles in Township parking lots following an event where alcohol was consumed, voicing concern that it would be unfortunate for someone to get a ticket. Mr. Becking explained that the parking restrictions were related to off site social events where Community Centre parking lots are being used as overflow parking for private parties.
A resolution was read and carried to pass the final draft by-law. Public Works will return with the requested amendment.
Ed Note: The Muskoka Ratepayers were most interested in Councillor Kelley's comments that the biggest issue expressed by people he spoke to over the summer was not the environment or septic systems but the Township by-law enforcement. Councillor Kelley questioned if the Township had the “collective horsepower” to respond to these issues. It was explained that at times complaints are received regarding an incident, such as blasting or clear cutting, where the public are unhappy but permission was given by the Township according to Township by-laws.
This was a concise, well run meeting at which time Committee received reports on the sale of an original road allowance, updated hours of work, flex, OT and vacation policy, a non-disclosure agreement with Cogeco, website redesign and event sign requests.
Presenter Andrea Kilroy explained to Committee that 12 years ago the Township cost shared with the Port Carling Lions, Port Carling Legion and Windermere Lions on a 50/50 basis the costs to erect event boards in Windermere and Port Carling. In return for the funds, the Township's logo was placed on the boards. When time came to replace the structures, the community groups did so and then asked the Township to cost share after the fact. Although funds were not allocated in the 2019 budget, the Communication & Economic Development Specialist suggested that the funds could be taken from the Economic Development budget.
Committee members felt that the event boards welcomed people to the communities and that the Township should cost share them. A resolution to allocate funds from the 2019 Economic Development budget was read and carried.
Staff were requested to look into this matter at the July meeting. By-law Officer, Jon Popple explained that it was the Township staff's understanding that policing is under the jurisdiction of the District and that no policing contracts exist between the District and the OPP. The Township cannot ask the OPP to enforce by-laws without a contract under Section 10 of the Police Services Act. However, the OPP will respond to complaints that are a “public disturbance” or involve “public safety”. The OPP will continue to respond to after-hours disturbances. If the call has to do with Township by-law enforcement the OPP will advise the Township by-law department through its OPP Records Management System. These records will then aid the by-law officer when he follows up on complaints.
Mr. Popple reviewed what occurs when a noise complaint is filed with the Township. The initial step is to speak to property owners in an attempt to educate them on the by-law and issue a warning. If a second complaint is issued against the same property, Popple will visit the property again and issue a ticket for noise violation in the amount of $150.00. If the property owner continually violates the by-law, fines will continue to be issued. Property owners can simply pay the ticket/fine or request a court date to fight the ticket. If a court date is requested, the individual who filed the complaint will be required to give a witness statement. If a property owner continually disregards the noise by-law and the Township is required to take them to court, the $150.00 fine can increase to as much as $5,000.00.
This item was for information and no resolution was read.
Ed Note: The Muskoka Ratepayers are certainly interested in this topic. Jon Popple was one of our guest speakers at our July 2018 AGM.
As with several other agencies/ministries in Ontario, the Province is discussing reducing the number of Health Units from 35 to 10. If this were to occur, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is one of two in the Province to be disbanded. The District of Muskoka (DMM) would then amalgamate with Sudbury, North Bay, Parry Sound, Algoma, Porcupine, Timiskaming and the northern portion of Renfrew, and extend as far north as James Bay.
Dr. Gardiner, Medical Officer of Health from the SMDHU, presented at the District Health Services Committee in August explaining that the board of the SMDHU feels it would be best “to keep the current health unit together and align SMDHU with the York Region Health Unit”. Dr. Gardiner further stated:
DMM CAO, Michael Duben, explained that they did not know the long-term impact on the municipalities and District. He was unsure where any financial saving would be found if the SMDHU was disbanded but service levels would be effected.
During Committee discussions it was stated:
Although both liaisons between the District Council and SMDHU supported Dr. Gardiner and stated that Muskoka would be the rich cousin supporting other municipalities, two committee members were not in agreement. Committee required a 2/3 majority to table the motion to support Dr. Gardiner but it was defeated.
At the Township Council meeting Councillor Nishikawa, who sits on the Health Services Committee, explained to Council that the SMDHU had asked her committee for a letter of support to remain as one health unit. Councillor Nishikawa said she and “others” had concerns that signing the letter would be telling the Province that that is where the DMM wishes to go and asked Council for their views. Councillors felt that there was not enough information and more facts were required before a decision could be made.
The motion that was defeated at the Health Service Committee meeting in August was brought forward to the District Council meeting on Monday, September 16th, 2019. It was determined that more information was required and this item was deferred, with a request to have Dr. Gardiner present to District Council.
This is a follow up to the report in our August Township Watch regarding the Provincial Officer's Order - Minett Sewage - Township Watch - August 2019. Commissioner Fred Jahn provided Committee with a verbal update on the September 3rd, 2019 meeting between the resort, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) and the third party operator of the plant. The District was represented by Commissioner Jahn, Director of Water & Wastewater Services Marcus Firman and CAO Michael Duben. Although not named, it was stated that there was a representative from the Township present as well. The MECP was satisfied that the resort owner and plant operator are in compliance with the MECP directions. Mr. Firman is receiving weekly reports on the plant and the DMM has “eyes on it”. Commissioner Jahn reported that the next steps would be an engineering review of the sewage plant by the resort owner, which the District will peer review by their own consultant.
Commissioner Jahn stated that all reports from the MECP and health official, “did not substantiate an impact to Wallace Bay”, which is “a key point”.
This item was for information and no resolution was read.
Ed Note: The Muskoka Ratepayers commend the Township and the District for staying on top of this situation even though it is out of their jurisdiction.
Although Muskoka Road 50, High Falls Road, is not located in the Township of Muskoka some of our members may use it. Over the past two years there have been no less than 30 incidents of large vehicles not being able to negotiate the steep grades on the road in the winter and requiring the District to send sander and tow trucks to the incident. At the advice of staff, Committee voted to regulate the use of trucks with two or more drive axles on High Falls Road from November 1st to April 1st annually. Signage will be posted and if ignored, the cost of towing etc, will be billed to the vehicle owner on a cost recovery basis.
A resolution was read and carried to prepare a by-law for Council's approval to restrict trucks with two or more drive axles on Muskoka Road 50.The Muskoka Ratepayers support the Muskoka Lakes Association
When closing your summer residence for the winter, please consider
For more information on other drop off points, here is the MLA flyer - Food Drive