All policies of the Township must be viewed through the lens of protecting and enhancing the environment. The natural beauty of Muskoka is the very foundation of our region's year-round economy. Collectively, we must ensure that our land-use policies and bylaws support these objectives.
We must also put the environment first to play our part in helping to reduce the global warming that is already upon us.
Respectful Responsible Development
The construction, maintenance and service of lakefront properties is a very significant industry in Muskoka, providing economic wellbeing to many hundreds of families. Township policies need to be supportive while prioritizing the long-term need to protect this precious environment.
The overdevelopment of Legacy Cottages and, more recently, Sugarloaf Island are highly visible examples of what the vast majority of people in Muskoka do not want. There must be no more lakefront subdivisions on our shores. Unrestricted blasting and excessive tree removal need to be stopped.
Respectful and responsible development encourages development that will protect the “view from the canoe”, the tree canopy, our wetlands and stop run-off.
Resort commercial development proposals must be true resorts, not subdivisions taking advantage of the preferred zoning allotted to resorts. Careful consideration must be paid to impacts on water, sewage, density and other infrastructure requirements.
Recreational Carrying Capacity is a proven policy that sets development limits on smaller bodies of water when they have reached their social carrying capacity.
It is important to keep our township tax increases in line with inflation. Increases above inflation should be fully justified and clearly explained to the ratepayers. Budgets must be developed from the bottom-up, rather than always adding new costs onto the previous year’s budget.
Bylaw Development & Enforcement
This new term of Council will probably be developing the new zoning bylaw, which governs how development and redevelopment takes place. Some of the current bylaws are not economically enforceable. The new bylaws must be developed with the objective that they be efficiently and effectively enforceable.
Support for Local Residents
Lack of affordable housing for permanent residents is a big challenge in the township. Council must keep creation of affordable housing as a priority, especially in the urban centres.
Access to the lakes, such as boat launches and public beaches, are important to enable people who do not own waterfront property to enjoy the lakes. These access points need to be well maintained, enhanced as needed and expanded if possible.
Community Centres and rinks play an important role in the social and wellbeing fabric of the township. They must be supported by Council.
I support the Community Improvement Plan put in place by the current Council and look forward to supporting its implementation.
Short-term rentals/sharing economy have grown significantly over the last decade and play a significant role in the economy of Muskoka. Unfortunately, in some instances, it has brought social problems in the form of noise, overcrowding and inappropriate behavior. Like property development, owners must operate their short-term rentals in a respectful and responsible manner. Licensing short-term rentals is a viable option to get better control over these situations. A licensing program will need to be light on administrative costs and applied carefully. However, they must be effectively and easily enforceable so that issues get resolved quickly or the right to rent will be removed.