Friends of Muskoka are working hard through the winter months to protect Muskoka from unsustainable development. Thank you for all your ongoing support and encouragement. 

In This Issue:

Update on the Village of Minett

Not much to report, but in conversations with the new owner Mitchell Goldhar, the purchase of the Clevelands House Resort property (including SWS Marine, the Rock Golf Course and vacant land on Peninsula Road) has officially closed. All properties will continue to operate this coming summer as Mr. Goldhar works with his advisors on formulating his development plans, but he has assured us his vision for the area is to minimize the impact on the shoreline and water. 

Mr. Goldhar also indicated he will continue an open dialogue with Friends of Muskoka and will be willing to meet all stakeholders once he has formulated his long-term plans. We will continue to keep everyone informed on this very important development.

Ontario Government Backs Down on Severely Flawed Schedule 10 to Bill 66 

Fortunately, the Provincial Conservatives have backed down on proceeding with a portion of Bill 66 known as Schedule 10, which would have had negative implications not only for the Greenbelt, but the lakes, watershed and forests across Ontario under the Conservatives’ development motto of ‘Open for Business’.

Under Schedule 10, municipal councils could have approved development that created jobs, without public input and without complying with existing environmental or planning laws. 

Friends of Muskoka submitted this letter to the government and our local MPP opposing this irresponsible and short-sighted approach that could have caused irreparable damage to Ontario’s environment. We strongly opposed the undemocratic manner in which municipal councils could have proceeded without any public notice, input or appeal rights.

FOM applauds Township of Muskoka Lakes Council for its unanimous resolution on January 18th opposing Schedule 10, which it filed with the Province. 

Further information can be found in this Toronto Star article and Globe & Mail article

Ontario Government Announces a Regional Review that Includes Muskoka

The Ontario government announced on January 15th that it will review municipal governments in eight regions, including Muskoka, addressing improving governance, decision-making and service delivery. This will include options for reducing duplication and cost savings…...we suspect consolidation of services could be the outcome, which may reduce our voice on Council. 

In total, the review will cover 82 municipalities across the province, including the 6 District of Muskoka municipalities - Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Huntsville, Georgian Bay, Lake of Bays and Township of Muskoka Lakes. 

"Our government is committed to improving the way regional government works and we will be looking at ways to make better use of taxpayers' dollars and make it easier for residents and businesses to access important municipal services," said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark in a news release reported in this CBC article

Timing is tight, since the advisory body tasked with the review must provide recommendations to the Minister by early summer 2019.

Parry Sound - Muskoka MPP Norm Miller is encouraging residents to contact his office with comments (, which he will convey to the Minister and the review team. 

Details of the review are on this government website page.

MuskokaRegion covers this issue on January 15th and January 17th

We will be following this issue closely and will keep you informed as the review progresses. 
A frosty mooring ensures these iconic steamships get some rest before a busy 2019 season begins in only a few months' time.

TML is Reviewing Living Spaces in First Floors of Boathouses

The Township of Muskoka Lakes (TML) is reviewing the growing trend of living spaces on the first floor of boathouses, including eliminating boat slips to provide additional space for couches, tables, tv’s, wet bars, exercise equipment and, potentially, sleeping accommodation. 
TML’s Zoning By-laws prohibit habitable space on the first floor of a boathouse, which is restricted to: boat and marine related storage; and a washroom, sauna and utility room that cumulatively do not exceed 100 square feet. 

On January 17th, TML’s Committee of the Whole considered this staff report, and many Councillors expressed concern with this growing trend and the difficulty of enforcing TML’s By-laws. COW asked staff to return with a list of complaints received from the public.

FOM is also concerned about how this trend will detract from the natural character of our waterfront, including the noise and light (particularly at night) from these living spaces in boathouses, and the extra burden they could put on septic systems close to the water. We support TML’s review, and encourage our supporters to submit any complaints or comments to Director of Planning David Pink so they can be considered at the next COW meeting on February 14th. 

JW Marriott Article and Survey

MuskokaRegion has published an article “JW Marriott Rosseau celebrates 10 years in Muskoka; We explore its impact” that discusses the impact of the resort known as ‘Red Leaves’ on local employment and the economy. It notes that the resort is trying to hire and buy locally but is finding it challenging to do so. 

The article includes a survey question: In your opinion has the JW Marriott Rosseau had a positive impact on Muskoka over the past decade? Yes or no?

In answering this question, we suggest it’s important to consider the challenges experienced by the Marriott with staff accommodation. During this past summer, the Marriott housed staff in trailers placed in the parking lot of the Bala Bay Inn, contrary to local by-laws, and were ordered to remove them. We believe the Marriott may be approaching TML council on February 15th for an amendment to the by-law, so watch for the agenda that should  be issued on February 11th and if so, cottagers in the Bala area will want to be present.

In addition, the Marriott applied for permits to build 40 new units along the waterfront based on grandfathered zoning by-laws. Friends of Muskoka and other concerned groups and neighbours challenged this development that would not be permitted under today’s zoning rules, and TML Council deferred making a decision until its concerns were addressed. 

TML Council Opposes Swift River’s Application to Draw Water at Bala Falls 

In a unanimous decision on January 18th, TML’s Council opposed an application by Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) to draw water at its Bala Falls hydro project. 

Ontario’s Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) had asked for comments on SREL’s application to draw 96 cubic metres per second, representing between 33% and 95% of water flow through Bala depending on the time of year. 

Council heard from three individuals opposed to the application because of the public safety concerns of SREL drawing water, and the outdated data being relied on by MECP.

Council’s lengthy resolution requested MECP to deny the application based on the negative impact and public safety concerns of SREL drawing water, and requested that at a minimum SREL not be able to draw water between May 15 and November 1 when in-water recreation occurs in the immediate vicinity (including swimming, fishing, and scuba diving). 

Council requested MECP to undertake studies to fully understand in-water recreation and implement best practices for the operation of dams. Council also requested MECP to require an updated environmental screening report before any water is drawn by SREL to ensure protection of the environment and water quality of the watershed.

Further information is available in this MuskokaRegion article

Recreational Carrying Capacity

Recreational Carrying Capacity (RCC) is being given greater recognition as a way to determine how much development is appropriate on a lake. 

The Chair of the District’s new Community and Planning Services Committee, Nancy Alcock, has been reported as stating that “she anticipated interest in recreational carrying capacity to continue into 2019.” In this article she noted that “In her opinion, discussion on recreational carrying capacity made sense in Muskoka, though it would be a complicated issue that involved not just planning principles, but also quite a bit of science.” 

An explanation of Recreational Carrying Capacity can be found in Waves VIII.

We believe an RCC measure is an important tool for establishing limits to growth on a given body of water and we encourage District and local Muskoka municipalities to adopt this tool as part of their planning process, just as Seguin Township has done. 

John Klinck Re-Appointed District Chair

John Klinck was re-appointed to his third term as Chair of District Council at the inaugural council meeting on December 10, 2018.

John’s reappointment is good news for Muskoka, since he is a strong supporter of Muskoka’s watershed and environment. In his nomination filing he stated: 

“We must ensure that all of our policies and procedures give regard to the realities of climate change, ensuring the promise of a sustainable future for our children and theirs. We must protect our watershed, our forests and our brilliant night sky, and ensure that the aesthetic nature of our neighbourhoods are not compromised.”

Opportunities to Volunteer for Muskoka Committees

There are a variety of committees established by the six municipalities in the District of Muskoka that welcome volunteers with various skills and experience, and make an important contribution to Muskoka. We have reached out to the municipalities and listed the committees that are seeking volunteers on this link: Muskoka Volunteer Opportunities

Friends of Muskoka Flashback: SOUND THE ALARM!!

Our Sound the Alarm boat rally in Wallace Bay on August 25th was the 3rd most-read story in 2018 for MuskokaRegion!
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Head to to get updated news and information from the Friends of Muskoka campaign. The site lists many ways to help you preserve the natural environment and unique character of Muskoka, including information on how to contribute to the development of sustainable official plans for the District of Muskoka. For more frequent updates, follow us on Facebook
About 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.
Copyright © 2019 Friends of Muskoka, All rights reserved.

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