View this email in your browser
November 2018
MLA Welcomes new General Manager
The MLA is pleased to announce that Katie Edwards is our new General Manager. Katie began working at the MLA effective early November. She is an energetic professional with an extensive background in the hospitality industry, both in Canada and the United States. Please help make Katie feel welcome when you call the office.

Katie takes over this position from Arlene Reville. The MLA thanks Arlene for her dedication and hard work while at the MLA and wishes her well in her future endeavours. 

The MLA also thanks Chelsea Callard, our office assistant, for holding down the fort so well during this transition.
Municipal and District Inaugural Dates
Members of the public are invited to attend the various Inaugural Meetings of the 2018-2022 Muskoka District and municipal councils.Those elected will take
their Declarations of Office at the following times:

Township of Muskoka Lakes: Monday, December 3rd at 11 a.m. at the Port Carling Community Centre (1 Bailey Street, Port Carling.)

Seguin Township: Monday, December 3rd at 7 p.m. at the Rosseau Memorial Hall (2 Victoria Street West).

Town of Gravenhurst: Tuesday, December 4th at 7 p.m. at the Gravenhurst Opera House (295 Muskoka Road South).

Town of Bracebridge: Wednesday, December 5th at 7 p.m. at Rene M. Caisse Memorial Theatre (100 Clearbrook Trail, Bracebridge).

District Council: Monday, December 10th at 7 p.m. in the District Council Chambers (70 Pine Street, Bracebridge).
Precedent-Setting Canadian Case: Court Rules that a Canoe is a Vessel Subject to Impaired Operation Charges

On April 7th, 2017, an eight-year-old boy died when the canoe he was in tipped on the Muskoka River. He was carried down over High Falls and was found at the bottom by two police officers. The man paddling the canoe, David Sillars, pleaded not guilty to charges of impaired operation of a vessel causing death, operation of a vessel with a blood alcohol level over 80 milligrams causing death and dangerous operation of a vessel causing death. On November 15th, Justice Peter West made history by ruling that a canoe is a vessel, subsequently becoming the first case in Canadian history where the charges of impaired operation of a vessel causing death, have been upheld in court where the vessel in question is a canoe. Sillars now faces charges under the Criminal Code of Canada for the impaired operation of a canoe causing death.

See the following news article outlining the details of the case: Click here

New Environmental Commissioner’s Report says Ontario Needs to do Better

On November 15, just days after the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) delivered her 2018 annual report, the Ontario government tabled legislation to eliminate the office and roll the position under the Auditor General.

Dianne Saxe, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, has released her 2018 Environmental Protection Report, Back to Basics. In it, she focusses on five Ws—water, wetlands, woodlands, wildlife, and wilderness—and outlines how the province can do much more to take care of them.

The article can be found here.

The MLA agrees that strong environmental policies must be maintained and that the voice of the Environmental Commissioner is important. These provincial changes make the work of environmental advocates, such as the MLA, that much more important.

District of Muskoka 
Incumbent John Klinck sole nominee for District Chair 2018 -2022 –Nominations for the office of District Chair closed 4 p.m. on November 20th, with John Klinck listed as the sole nominee. As a result, the ‘Meet the Candidates’ debate/event scheduled for November 28th was cancelled. Election of the District Chair will take place at the District council’s inaugural meeting on December 10th. Pursuant to the District’s Procedure By-law, “If only one candidate submits nomination papers to the Clerk in accordance with this section, then Council may conduct an election or may appoint that individual by motion”. It is anticipated that during the inaugural meeting Council may proceed to appoint John Klinck as District Chair by way of a District motion. Information on Klinck’s background and his platform which focuses on the environment can be found here.
The MLA looks forward to continuing to work with John.
District Chair Thanks Out-Going District Councillors – At the November 19th District Council meeting, District Chair John Klinck took the opportunity to thank those councillors who would not be returning to District Council for their service and presented each of them with a small gift. John recognized the following councillors:
Lori-Lynn Giaschi-Pacini (Bracebridge), Mayor Larry Braid (Georgian Bay), Mayor Paisley Donaldson and Terry Pilgar (Gravenhurst),  Karin Terziano (Huntsville), Mayor Bob Young and Shane Baker (Lake of Bays) and Mayor Don Furniss (TML). Local news article can be found here.

District Council Composition Committee Progress – As previously reported in NewsBites, a special District committee was formed in September 2017 to review the structure of District Council, with a goal to reducing the number of councillors from twenty-two to as few as twelve. On November 19th, committee presented District Council with the following four recommendations to help guide the new committee in 2019:

  1. When establishing the total population of the District of Muskoka and its member Municipalities, the Voters’ List should not be used.  For the permanent population it is recommended that the most recent census be used and for the seasonal population, a statistically valid estimate be procured. (It was agreed by District Council that the Second Home Study was not considered adequate as it is simply a study of behaviors, not a numerical counting of population.)
  2. That council size be reduced. (No specific number was identified).
  3. That the next council not be constrained by the current council structure. (The committee recognized that the standing committee structure is changing and the number of committees may require fewer councillors.)
  4. That a public meeting be held to receive input on a recommended council structure.
The four recommendations were adopted.
The MLA will continue to follow the debate regarding the future council’s composition.  

New Health Services Commissioner Announced – The District is completing a restructuring of its departments and standing committees. More than half of the District’s work has been identified as being in the health-care field including long term care, paramedic services and health planning. All these areas will now be aligned under the new Health Services department to be led by Norm Barrette who has been hired as the District’s new Commissioner of Health Services. Barrette recently served as Chief and General Manager of Paramedic and Seniors Services at the Region of York.  In this role, he helped to bring together Paramedic Services, Long Term Care and Seniors Community Programs into a newly formed health services delivery organization, similar to the direction in which the District is headed.

The MLA welcomes Norm Barrette to Muskoka.

District’s new Committee Structure –District Council voted to establish the new committee structure as follows:
  1. Engineering and Public Works Committee (remains unchanged).
  2. Establish a new combined Finance and Corporate Services Committee
  3. Establish a new combined Community and Planning Services Committee with Samantha Hastings as Commissioner.
  4. Establish a new Health Services Committee with Norm Barrette as Commissioner (see above).
District of Muskoka’s new Marketing Video - The District works with area municipal partners to attract and retain businesses and organizations that are essential to growing the economy while maintaining the quality of life in Muskoka. See here for the District’s latest marketing video.  
Township of Muskoka Lakes (TML)
TML Requests your Input re Cannabis Retail Stores – TML is looking for input from residents ahead of the upcoming decision to opt in or opt out of allowing recreational cannabis stores within municipal limits. It is now legal to purchase and use cannabis for recreational purposes across Canada. In Ontario, currently the only way to legally purchase recreational cannabis is online through the Ontario Cannabis Store. However, municipalities across the province have the option to allow retail cannabis stores beginning in April 2019. By January 22, 2019, TML needs to confirm with the province whether it will allow private retail stores. TML is asking Muskoka Lakes’ residents for input to help Council make this important decision.

A short survey is available on the Township website. The deadline to complete the survey and provide input is December 7, 2018. The results of the survey will not determine whether council ultimately decides to opt in or out of recreational cannabis sales, but will be included in a staff report for council’s consideration when it makes its decision at one of its first meetings of the next term. This press release and the survey link can be found here.
The staff report on Bill 36 - Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018 – can be found here.

The MLA urges all our members to participate in this short 7 question survey.

Update on the Villas of Muskoka /Touchstone LPAT Hearing – As previously reported in NewsBites, the District of Muskoka approved applications to allow the condominium units of these two commercially zoned resorts to be placed in a rental pool for only eight to ten weeks a year. However TML’s Official Plan states that resort condominium units must be in a rental pool for the entire year, allowing use by the travelling public. This discrepancy permits the condominium owners to use their units as residential properties which is not the intent of either the District or TML’s Official Plans. Both agreements have been appealed to LPAT (Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) by the Friends of Muskoka and a concerned TML property owner. A three-day LPAT hearing took place November 7th to 9th in the District Council Chambers in Bracebridge.  It became evident after the second day that further days will be required to hear all the evidence. The hearing is scheduled to continue April 16th to 18th, 2019.

The MLA is very supportive of all the efforts of those who appealed the applications and looks forward to the continuation of this precedent-setting hearing.

Update on the Lippa Quarry LPAT Pre-Hearing – In 2017, TML council refused a zoning amendment application that would permit aggregate extraction from quarry site north of Skeleton Lake. The owners appealed TML’s refusal to the OMB/LPAT. Recently the Skeleton Lake Community Association, along with one aggrieved party, applied to LPAT to dismiss the owner’s appeal claiming it was frivolous and vexatious. A one-day pre-hearing was held on Monday, November 26th at the Port Carling Community Centre to determine if the appeal should be dismissed. The LPAT Chair said she would not make a decision that day. Instead she will be accepting written submissions until December 10th. Submissions must only deal with whether or not the appeal is frivolous or vexatious. 

The MLA looks forward to the Chair’s decision in this contentious and complex matter.

Port Carling Locks Closed for the 2018 Season - The Port Carling Locks closed for the 2018 season on Wednesday, November 28th at 5:00pm. Due to weather and freezing temperatures, both the large and small locks will be closed to waterway traffic until next spring.
Opening dates will be posted on the District of Muskoka's website at 

TML Mayor-elect Phil Harding on TML Issues – Phil Harding speaks of his new council and the issues they will be addressing beginning in December. The full news article can be found here.

Bala Falls Project Update: Blasting Schedule and Lane Restrictions - Controlled blasting will continue until December 22nd. The blasts will take place daily at 11:00 a.m. and again at 6:00 p.m. (except on Sundays). The District has confirmed that road closures of up to 30 minutes can be expected during their blast times. District Engineering consultants and OPP will also be on site during blast periods. In addition, single lane closures began November 19th to allow for construction of a utility trench.  It is expected that a single lane closure will be in place for approximately 6 weeks at the Moon River Bridge. A local news article on the construction details can be found here.
Town of Bracebridge

Council approves Downzoning of the former Bangor Lodge Resort Property- The decision to downzone the property was passed by the Planning and Development committee on November 7th and ratified by Bracebridge Council on November 14th. The property is located off Golden Beach Road and has 1,172 feet of frontage on Lake Muskoka. The approved proposal allows the property to be rezoned to create:  5 large residential rural lots, 4 large waterfront lots on Lake Muskoka, one Open Space lot approximately 28 acres in size, a new right-of-way and allowing the 64 acres zoned Environmental Protection to be donated to the Muskoka Conservancy.

A local news article quotes Mayor Graydon Smith: “There’s a lot of open space to this proposal so environmentally it’s a win.” He adds, with the amount of concern about high-density development on the lakes in Muskoka this low-density development is also a win.”

The staff report can be found here.

The news article on this issue can be found here.

The MLA applauds the Town of Bracebridge for having the foresight to downzone this resort property that has been vacant for over 10 years. The donation of 64 acres to the Muskoka Conservancy ensures these lands will be protected. The MLA also applauds the efforts of the Bangor Ratepayers Association who met with the owner on numerous occasions to find a reasonable and environmentally respectful solution.

Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith looking forward to the next 4 years – In a recent interview, Smith says “there weren’t any surprises on the campaign trail, but he heard concerns, particularly around housing.” In addition to the lack of attainable housing, he heard residents are “eager to see progress on the arena/library complex” and that “rural and waterfront owners expressed a desire to see limited density and growth around the waterfront.” The full interview can be found here.  
Town of Gravenhurst 

Mayor Paisley Donaldson thanks Council –At the close of the last meeting of this term of council, Mayor Paisley Donaldson took the opportunity to thank staff and her fellow councillors for their willingness to “dedicate time in making Gravenhurst a better place.” Mayor Donaldson has presided over council for the last eight years and is respected in the community. Her full closing remarks can be found here.

The MLA thanks Mayor Donaldson for her many years of dedicated service on council.

Public Meeting re Amendment to the Town’s Zoning By-law –In 2016 Gravenhurst adopted their new Official Plan which contained more accurate information related to environmental protection boundaries. Over time the Zoning By-law Schedules for the Environmental Protection (EP) Zones have been updated with new data from Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) that identifies all wetland borders and environmentally-sensitive areas on which there are zoning restrictions.  The proposed amendment is to bring the current Zoning By-law mapping into conformity with the Official Plan Schedules. The updated Zoning By-law Schedules help in regulating land use and development in Gravenhurst.
On November 27th, a public meeting was held to consider proposed updates to the Town’s Zoning By-law. While poorly attended, several representatives noted significant errors on the maps that were acknowledged by staff as requiring correction.
Although the meeting was advertised, there were only two deputations from the public. The first to speak was the president of Kahshe Lake Ratepayers Association who noted that some previously protected areas around Kahshe Lake were no longer included in the mapping. Staff agreed to edit the mapping to include the suggested regions. The second delegate was from Coopers Falls Road (southeast Gravenhurst) who spoke on behalf of four other attendees. Their concern was that a large block of land where they resided (zoned Rural Residential) had been incorrectly rezoned Environmentally Protected (EP). Staff agreed the designation was incorrect and would correct the mistake. The zoning amendment was carried with staff’s assurance that any additional errors would be dealt with.
The above issues sparked a discussion on the process of updating the zoning maps. How many other areas might have been inadvertently re-zoned? What are the perils of changing any zoning matters without personally contacting affected property owners? Regardless of the Town’s efforts to advertise the meeting, many permanent and seasonal residents were unaware of it. This led to the acceptance by Council that the Town needs to improve communication with citizens when their properties are being affected.

The full staff report can be found here.
 The 120 Town zoning maps, highlighting the - EP zones, can be found here.
The MLA urges all our members in Gravenhurst to carefully review the Town maps to ensure that your property zoning has not been inadvertently affected. The MLA is pleased that Council is going to actively seek new ways to increase public awareness on matters of this importance. And correct the maps.
Gravenhurst’s New Website – On November 12th the Town of Gravenhurst launched its brand new website. According to their press release, the new website aims to deliver improved customer focused service, additional accessibility options and mobile friendly features. “Council is committed to maintaining good communications with the community, I’m excited about where we’re going with our new website and it’s enhanced features,” said Mayor Elect Paul Kelly. See here for the full press release.

Seguin Township

Councillor Jack Hepworth’s November 5th Report- This month’s report includes a ‘must see’ video of Mayor-elect Ann MacDiarmid’s acceptance speech on election night! It’s clear to see that Seguin Township will be in good hands over the next four years.

The MLA congratulates Ann on her win.

Along with the summary report from the November 5th council meeting, the report also includes details on the feasibility study for future Rosseau Memorial Hall renovations. In order to maintain the cultural and historical significance of the Hall, council preferred the first of three renovation plans. The plan includes a 912 sq. ft. two storey addition that would replace the existing addition, including a main floor kitchen, lower level washrooms, a mechanical room, new stairs and storage. Councillor Hepworth points out that the five year capital plan does not currently include a budget for this potential renovation. If Council decides to proceed, the 2022 and 2023 budgets for the Rosseau Memorial Hall would need to be reconfigured. Councillor Hepworth’s full report can be found here.

The MLA thanks Councillor Hepworth for his years of service on council and for taking time to write up these valuable reports for the community. The MLA wishes him well.

Winter has arrived in Muskoka

 The MLA reminds everyone to ensure all boathouse and dock items are safely stored at an elevated level in your boathouse.

The MLA wishes all our members a very Happy Holiday Season!
Copyright © *2018 *Muskoka Lakes Association*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
65 Joseph Street, Box 298, Port Carling, P0B 1J0, ON

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can
update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list