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“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”

- Gary Snyder 


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On Thursday, April 28 the District of Muskoka’s Community and Planning Services Committee held a public meeting on Minett to receive comments from the public on certain subjects of interest to the District such as water and wastewater and other District–provided services. 

Deborah Martin-Downs spoke on behalf of Friends of Muskoka and the MLA requesting that the necessary upgrades to roads, the Port Sandfield bridge and other infrastructure be addressed and be paid for by the property owner. She also explained other comments contained in our April 26th letter

Cindy Forbes spoke on behalf of the Bruce Lake Family Association reinforcing our comments and reminding Committee that Bruce Lake is in the immediate vicinity of Minett and their members will be impacted in many ways by development in the Resort Village. 

Committee expressed concern about increased boat traffic and recommended keeping boat slips to a minimum and finding some mechanism to ensure Wallace Bay does not become overcrowded and unsafe. 

District Chair John Klinck expressed concern about the overall amount of development planned, stating that he is “personally offended by the development at Legacy Cottages, the way it started, what it looked like and what it might look like in the end”. He appealed for a process that would require some restitution for “poor decisions” that were made when the Legacy property was clearcut (eg. greening where possible). We couldn’t agree more! 

Planning Consultant Nick McDonald assured Chair Klinck and Committee that before any development occurs at the larger Clevelands House property, a large number of studies will need to be completed to the satisfaction of the Township of Muskoka Lakes, including a phased servicing plan, transportation plan, traffic impact, parks plan, building height plan, urban design and architectural guidelines, and a fiscal impact study - all paid for by the developer and peer reviewed by the Township. Costs of implementation would also be borne by the proponent at no cost to the Township. These studies were recommended by the Minett Steering Committee whose members included Deb Martin-Downs (MLA President), Laurie Thomson (FOM President), Frank Pottow (MLA and FOM director) and Sandy McNair (MLA director), who all strongly advocated for these studies. [MJPRSC recommendations

Click here for a refresher on Minett

Next steps…. We will let you know when this comes back to Township Council for final discussion and approval 


Although few in number, excessively loud boats are a problem and you can help do something about it!
The current regulations are too difficult for the police to enforce so the problem continues unchecked. The solution is to establish maximum decibel limits for boat motor noise. 
The Decibel Coalition is an initiative of Safe Quiet Lakes, and has succeeded in putting decibel limits on Transport Canada’s agenda. It is crucial that Transport Canada hears from as many people as possible through their “Lets Talk” web portal, which closes on May 13th. It is also important that our politicians support decibel limits. 

Friends of Muskoka made this submission to Let’s Talk on April 27th, supporting decibel limits for boat motor noise.

But numbers matter, so please help support decibel limits for boat motor noise by taking just a few minutes to do these two things.

1. Go to the Transport Canada Let’s Talk web page before May 13th and answer Question #5 using the following text as a guide:

Question 5: What do you think about introducing performance standards for manufacturers, importers and vessel operators to follow? These standards would make sure vessels don’t exceed certain decibel limits.

Suggested response:
  • Option #5 is the only proposal that can realistically address excessive boat motor noise levels for both new and existing vessels.
  • They must be accompanied by internationally recognized decibel limits and efficient and effective enforcement procedures
  • Performance standards for manufacturers, importers and vessel operators will create clear, easy to understand, objective standards with decibel limits consistent with the USA and the EU.
  • Compliance costs for manufacturers and importers are minimal
  • Enforcement costs are low and are much lower than the current the regulations
(Feel free to answer questions 1-4 and 6 if you like, but the solution in question 5 is the only one that will work effectively to reduce excessive boat motor noise in Canada.)

2. Email your MP

Write to your federal MPs for both your cottage and permanent residence, asking them to support regulations for decibel limits on boat motor noise. 

Click here and the email will be generated for you after putting in some basic information - and you can edit it as you like, including what lake you are on, and describing how excessively loud boats affect you.

Thanks for your help!


A new use has developed on the waterways - floating cottages. Unlike a houseboat, they are intended to be used for living space rather than travel. They are marketed as homes, but can be a navigational hazard, a visual scar and an environmental risk. Surprisingly,  they are not subject to any building, safety or environmental regulations, and pay no property taxes. Since floating cottages are not on land, municipal by-laws do not apply to them, such as by-laws relating to noise, sewage disposal or night light.

Gloucester Pool Cottagers’ Association included this photo of a floating cottage made of shipping containers in its presentation to Severn Township Council on March 23, 2022:
Friends of Muskoka is deeply concerned about the prospect of floating cottages being moored on Muskoka’s lakes and rivers, and their negative impact on waterfront views and character, as well as potential impacts from wastewater and grey water spilling into the water.

Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDMNRF) is reviewing possible regulatory approaches to floating accommodations as a form of ‘camping’ on the waterways over Ontario’s public lands. Details are here

The Canadian Environmental Law Association issued this bulletin on April 19th stating “CELA opposes the use of floating accommodations on waterways and recommends camping on watercraft that are not vessels be prohibited.”

Township of Muskoka Lakes is recommending to the MNDMNRF that floating accommodations be prohibited (see this report).  

The Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association is investigating various mechanisms for regulating floating accommodations, and has met with the MNDMNRF. 

Although the MNDMNRF’s comment period expired on April 19th, you may wish to provide comments to:  

Interested in Running for Municipal Council in Muskoka? Let’s Talk 

On October 24th we have an election in Muskoka. This is our opportunity to be part of shaping the future of our community.

We need councillors who will prioritize responsible development, environmental protection and strong fiscal management - to Respect, Preserve and Protect Muskoka.
  • No more clearcutting and excessive blasting
  • No more residential subdivisions on our shorelines
  • Appropriate by-law enforcement 
  • Protect water quality and mitigate flooding
  • Responsible and transparent budgets and taxation
  • No conflicts of interest
 Mayor and councillor positions are part-time. Prospective councillors need to reside, part-time or full-time, in the municipality they plan to represent. Both are paid positions, but there is a significant element of public service in these roles.

The MLA and Friends of Muskoka will be evaluating candidates for council in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Township of Muskoka Lakes and Seguin. We will interview all interested candidates and jointly identify those candidates who are aligned with the values of our combined membership base of over 8,000 voters. 

Let’s talk if you are considering running for office. Please contact us at


Few of us realize that we can vote in more than one municipality in Ontario.

In fact, property owners and their spouses can both vote in every municipality where they have property (notwithstanding that it is not their permanent residence). So you and your spouse can both vote at your home and also at your cottage if:
  • you are a Canadian citizen, and 18+ years old; and 
  • you are registered to vote….registration allowed up until election day, October 24, but much easier to do before August
  • Check today at to make sure you are registered to vote!
  • if you (or your spouse) are not registered, you can do so right then (you will need your cottage address or your property assessment roll number from your property tax bill); pro tip: sometimes the cottage address does not work, especially for island properties
Tenants (renters) and their spouses are also allowed to vote. So long as you are a tenant in the municipality on voting day (October 24), you are entitled to vote. 


Join the MLA-hosted special webinar on Water Quality on May 10 at 5pm. Hear the results of the MLA’s 2021 Water Quality Monitoring Program in the 2021 Water Quality Report and learn about:
  • The MLA’s Water Quality Monitoring program
  • The 2021 MLA Water Quality Report completed by Hutchinson Environmental Sciences Ltd.
  • What you can do to improve your local water quality
  • Q&A session included
Presenters include:
  • Chris Cragg, MLA Board Director and Chair of the Environment Committee 
  • Kristopher Hadley, Ph.D., Senior Aquatic Scientist at Hutchinson Environmental Sciences Ltd.
  • Rebecca Willison, Watershed Planning Technician at the Muskoka Watershed Council
Register Now


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.


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.


Click here and bookmark our constantly updated calendar of events or click here to download and import / subscribe to the Friends of Muskoka calendar in your desktop or phone calendar application.


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