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Friends of Muskoka Waves Newsletter

WAVES XIII

Unsustainable development is planned for Muskoka. It doesn't have to be this way.

 IN THIS ISSUE:

(Press  to return to this index)

 ONTARIO GOVERNMENT BEGINS ITS REGIONAL REVIEW THAT INCLUDES MUSKOKA 


The Ontario government has begun its review of upper and lower tier municipal governments in eight regions, including the upper-tier District of Muskoka and its six lower-tier municipalities (Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Huntsville, Georgian Bay, Lake of Bays and Township of Muskoka Lakes). 

The purpose of the review is “to help ensure that these municipalities are working effectively and efficiently, and can continue to provide the vital services that communities depend on.”  (learn more on the government’s website page). Minister Clark gave additional explanation in his February letter to the Heads of Council, stating the need to ‘streamline the development approvals system’ to achieve housing and job-related priorities. 

We are concerned that amalgamation of lower tier municipalities could be the outcome. We support a realignment of District Council representation as the current council composition is based upon 50% representation for seasonal residents, despite paying a full share of taxes. We are concerned that a potential elimination of the dual tier structure could further reduce the voice of seasonal residents on Council. This could have meaningful financial repercussions as townships such as TML, whose tax base is largely supported by seasonal residents, have different service needs and are in a different financial position than the urban towns. 

The government has asked for public comments until April 23rd. Click here for the points that FOM believes should be considered in this review and for instructions on how to submit your comments. 

 VILLAS AND TOUCHSTONE LPAT HEARINGS CONTINUE APRIL 16 - 18


The hearing being conducted into two developments on Lake Muskoka - Villas of Muskoka (formerly Tamwood Lodge) and Touchstone Resorts (formerly Aston Villas) - that began in November 2018 will continue on April 16 - 18. 

Come out and support Friends of Muskoka in this hearing that will have implications for Legacy Cottages resort on Lake Rosseau and all future developments across Muskoka that try to convert resorts into de facto residential developments. 

The hearing is before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (the successor to the Ontario Municipal Board) at the District of Muskoka’s offices on Pine Street in Bracebridge from 10:00 am each day on April 16 - 18.

Click here for more information. 

 LEGACY COTTAGES DEVELOPMENT


The LPAT hearing into the Legacy Cottages development will be on May 22 – 24 in the District’s offices in Bracebridge. Friends of Muskoka became a party since we oppose the proposal to build 43 year-round residential cottages on 470’ of shoreline on a property
that is zoned for a commercial resort.

Despite having 11 building permits in hand, the developer has stopped construction on the property pending the outcome of this hearing. At issue is the definition of commerciality of a resort. All Legacy sales literature has promoted residential cottage use, NOT investment in a resort where units must be made "available to the traveling public the entire year, including the high season", as is mandated in the Township Official Plan.

Subsequently, the Interim Control By-Law adopted by TML Council on May 18, 2018 stopped further applications to build while studies are conducted by the Minett Steering Committee to determine what development is appropriate in this area.
The developers challenged the ICBL in court in August 2018, and the judge upheld the ICBL and ruled that Council did not act in bad faith. The developers appealed this decision, and also launched a $22 million lawsuit against TML – announced on the first day of voting in the October 2018 municipal election. TML Council carries liability insurance to cover potential liability under these types of lawsuits.

The developers of Legacy approached FOM to ask if we would be willing to have some discussions in an attempt to address our concerns with their plans for the Legacy resort property. 
 
We had a number of conversations and email exchanges, in our genuine effort to find a resolution, recognizing the environment is always our first priority and that of our supporters.
 
In the final analysis it is our opinion that the development they are proposing is not a commercial resort. Our priority is, and will continue to be, protecting the environment in Muskoka and opposing any unsustainable development in contravention of our zoning bylaws and policies that threatens it.  

 TML COUNCIL BEGINS ITS OFFICIAL PLAN REVIEW


The Township of Muskoka Lakes Council has started its Official Plan review process by approving a Request for Proposal for a planning consultant to complete a comprehensive review over the next two years. 

FOM spoke at the Council meeting and expressed appreciation that the draft RFP acknowledges the importance of ‘community engagement and participation’.  FOM’s suggested revisions to the draft RFP were accepted, including the addition of wording to ensure the RFP is focused on protecting and preserving Muskoka. Click here for our submissions.

FOM looks forward to taking an active role in this review  on behalf of our supporters, since the next Official Plan will be setting the course for the Muskoka we all love for the next 20 years. 

 TML COUNCIL COMMITTEE RESTRUCTURING


TML Council has decided to amend its procedural bylaw to replace the Committee of the Whole (COW) with 2 standing committees (Planning and General/Finance) on a six month trial basis. The details will be made public when the procedural bylaw amendment comes to Council for approval.

This is a fundamental change to how land use planning decisions will be made. Our information is that:
  • 5 Councillors chosen by the Mayor will sit on each committee, plus the Mayor ex officio. Each TML Ward will be represented on the Planning Committee; 
  • Planning Committee will conduct the public hearings and make recommendations to Council; 
  • Council will make decisions regarding planning applications at its meeting the following month, so the public should contact Councillors with any concerns during that time; 
  • the public will be allowed 5 minutes to delegate at Planning Committee, but only 2 minutes to delegate at Council.  FOM has expressed a concern that this might be too short for an effective delegation; 
  • any Councillor not on Planning Committee may attend and participate in discussions but not vote;  and 
  • the Mayor encouraged the public to provide comments during the 6 month trial period on the new structure so appropriate changes can be made before the changes are permanently adopted.
FOM voiced its concerns to Council about the new structure, particularly regarding having a subset of Councillors on the Planning Committee.
 
The six month trial was supported eight to one, with only Councillor Frank Jaglowitz voting against it. Councillor Peter Kelley was absent.

We will closely monitor planning decisions during the six month trial so we are in a position to provide constructive feedback to Council.

 TML COUNCIL DENIES APPLICATION FOR STAFF HOUSING AT BALA BAY INN/HOSTEL 

In a unanimous decision on February 15th following a widely attended public hearing where many people spoke and 73 written submissions were received in opposition, TML Council denied a rezoning application by the company operating JW Marriott (Red Leaves) that would have allowed the Bala Bay Inn/Hostel to be used for staff housing. 

Further information is available in this MuskokaRegion article here

 LIPPA PIT AND QUARRY UPDATE


The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal has denied an application supported by Stop Muskoka Pit to dismiss the pit owner’s appeal of TML Council’s refusal of a zoning bylaw amendment for their new aggregate pit and quarry near Skeleton Lake. The fight continues.

More information here

 MUSKOKA ROYALE DEVELOPMENT 


Muskoka Royale Development Inc. has applied to rezone 345 acres just east of Lake Muskoka in Bracebridge to permit a private school, a sports complex, and two residence complexes, all under single ownership. Community members are concerned that the area includes an Open Space Zone and an Environmental Protection Wetland that are protected from this type of development, as described in this Muskoka411 article. The application will be considered at the Bracebridge Planning and Development Committee Meeting on April 3rd at 7pm.

Those interested in learning more should contact Michael Hart, President, Stephens Bay Association. 

 TOWNSHIP OF MUSKOKA LAKES SEEKS COMMITTEE MEMBERS 


Muskoka needs you! In our last edition of Waves we listed opportunities for community involvement in most Muskoka municipalities. This month, TML has posted Notice, Mandates and Application Forms for the following:

Committees and Boards:
  • Community Centre Hall Boards
  • Economic Development and Grants Committee
  • Heritage and Attainable Housing Committee
  • Parks and Trails Committee
For details visit the Township of Muskoka Lakes website here

 PORT CARLING HEALTH HUB 


The Port Carling Health Hub provides health services of a nurse practitioner on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the summer, and treated almost 300 people last summer. Click here for information on the Health Hub provided by Councillor Allen Edwards and his wife Linda, and how you can support it. 

 CONNECTING THE DROPS: MUSKOKA WATERSHED COUNCIL STEWARDSHIP CONFERENCE APRIL 26


Sign up now for the Muskoka Watershed Council’s annual Stewardship Conference.  Early bird discount available.  This year’s conference will be in Huntsville and features discussions on cumulative impacts on watersheds and how our watershed benefits us all. 

For more information, visit Muskoka Watershed Council's website here

 TOWNSHIP OF MUSKOKA LAKES COMMUNITY CLEAN-UP CAMPAIGN ON APRIL 27TH
 

Mayor Phil Harding is calling for volunteers to help clean up TML’s roads and parks on April 27th. Tipping fees at the Eveleigh Road Transfer Site near Port carling will be waived on this day for residents of TML. Click here for details. 

 PORTER AIRLINES TO BEGIN SERVICE TO MUSKOKA 

From June to September, Porter Airlines will being flying to Muskoka twice weekly between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Muskoka Airport.

President and CEO of Porter Airlines Robert Deluce said; “Muskoka is an inspiring destination that attracts travellers from near and far. This new route serves as a great opportunity to link Muskoka to our North American network.” 

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

IMPORTANT EVENTS

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