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Friends of Muskoka Waves Newsletter

WAVES - XX

This is a difficult time for all of us, but since many of you have been asking us what happened at the Legacy Cottages hearing we are providing this brief update.
IN THIS ISSUE: (Press  to return to this index)

DISTRICT TOOK A SHOCKING POSITION AT LEGACY LPAT HEARING

Heading into the Legacy LPAT hearing on February 27th, Friends of Muskoka was comfortable that we had a strong argument opposing Legacy’s development of 43 ‘cottages’ on only 470 feet of shoreline. Our key argument was that the developer had not established  Legacy would be a commercial resort that generated a profit, provided employment, and provided accommodation and resort amenities for tourists. 

Shockingly, the District of Muskoka’s lawyer stated at the hearing that the District agreed with Legacy’s position -- including owners only having to put their units in the rental pool for 10 weeks per year, with only 2 weeks between June 15 and September 15. This effectively allows owners to occupy their units for 42 weeks a year, including all of the key summer months of July and August. 

The District took this position despite the District’s planners having testified that owners being able to occupy their units for 42 weeks a year (which is what a 10 week rental pool allows) is tantamount to residential usage. We think the District’s position is OUTRAGEOUS, and it will inevitably speed up the redevelopment of over 80 commercial properties on our waterfront.
 
"9 docks and 38 to 53 power boats in Wallace Bay are already in excess of limits for safe boating."

We have consistently made our position clear with the District planners and politicians that this type of rental pool (10 weeks, with only 2 weeks in the summer) allows owners to occupy their units in the same way as every other seasonal cottager -- it is residential use on a property that was given higher building densities because it is supposed to be a commercial resort.  

The District did not consult us, or the Township of Muskoka Lakes (TML), before agreeing with the developer’s position, despite the countless hours and significant costs we have each incurred challenging this development. In the case of both the District and Township, it is taxpayers who have paid the bill.

The decision is expected to be issued within the next 4 - 6 months. However, given that the District supported the developer’s position at the hearing, we have a challenge ahead of us in protecting Muskoka.

Next Steps

We are pursuing discussions with the District’s planning staff and politicians regarding their position.  We want to understand why this happened and how it was allowed to happen. 

It is strikingly clear that the District and TML policies must be revised if we are going to be able to prevent residential developments being built under the guise of being commercial resorts. The existing policies are too vague and relaxed to prevent the types of ‘fake resorts’ that we have seen at Villas of Muskoka and Legacy Cottages. 

Fortunately, both the District and TML are updating their resort policies, so we and our supporters will have an opportunity to ensure they are strong enough and go far enough to prevent developers from building residential subdivisions on the shores of our lakes. 

COVID-19 INFORMATION AND RESOURCES IN MUSKOKA

For current information on COVID-19 in Muskoka, the Township of Muskoka Lakes has up to date information here or follow Mayor Phil Harding's video blog here. The District Website also has a lot of helpful COVID-19 related resources. 

Township of Muskoka Lakes Ward C Councillor and Friend of Muskoka Barb Bridgeman also prepared an excellent overview of COVID-19 related resources in Muskoka here

If you are considering travelling to Muskoka to self isolate, in addition to what Barb Bridgeman advised, we would like to remind you to keep a couple of things in mind:

Supplies and ICU Beds

Please remember that stores in Muskoka are likely stocked and staffed for normal demand this time of year, so consider taking supplies with you. Please also be aware of Barb Bridgeman's advice that there are only 8 - 10 ICU beds in total in the Bracebridge and Huntsville hospitals. 
 
Returning from Travel

As per Ontario Public Health guidance, anyone returning from travel outside of Canada should:
  • self-isolate for 14 days when they return. People who are self-isolating should stay at home and avoid contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to others in your home and your community.
  • monitor themselves for symptoms of the COVID-19 for 14 days after returning to Canada
  • contact their primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 if they experience symptoms of COVID-19
In addition:
  • Workers who have travelled and are part of workplaces that are essential to daily living are able to return to work as long as they do not have symptoms. However, they should self-monitor for a period of 14 days and identify themselves to their employer so that a plan can be put into place to ensure the protection of those workplaces.
  • Children under the age of 16 years who have travelled outside of Canada should also self-isolate for a period of 14 days. Parents should actively monitor their children's symptoms. Children who are self-isolating should stay at home and avoid social gathering points such as community centres or parks.
Learn about travel advisories related to COVID-19.

Additional Links
 
Mayor Phil Harding provides an overview of COVID-19 impact on Muskoka. More information at the Township of Muskoka Lakes website here.
 
We wish you and your loved ones continued strength and good health as we move forward in confidence together.

Directors, Friends of Muskoka

FRIENDS OF MUSKOKA

Friends of Muskoka are a group of dedicated volunteers working to protect and to preserve the natural environment and unique character of Muskoka by promoting responsible use and development of its land and lakes. Friends of Muskoka believe that the environment IS the economy in Muskoka since millions of people come to Muskoka and invest here because of its clean water and natural, treed shorelines. Our lakes, forests and rivers are a resource that can drive Muskoka’s economy for decades to come if we put the environment first. To this end, Friends of Muskoka is trying to stop residential subdivisions on the waterfront in Muskoka and will work to enshrine sustainable development in the Municipal and District Official Plans.

JOIN FRIENDS OF MUSKOKA

You can help Friends of Muskoka to protect and to preserve the natural environment and unique character of Muskoka by promoting responsible use and development of its land and lakes.
JOIN FRIENDS OF MUSKOKA

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