On Wednesday November 10th, Township of Muskoka Lakes Council approved changes to the Minett Official Plan.   Susan Eplett, Ken Pearce, Paul Richards, Frank Pottow and Laurie Thomson delegated on behalf of Friends of Muskoka and the Muskoka Lakes Association and Lisa Vanexan spoke on behalf of Bruce Lake, all asking for several changes to the rules governing development. You can watch us in action here (starting at 1:05:00).

We are pleased to report that Council adopted virtually all of our recommendations, including

  • Removing 158 acres of “non-Red Leaves” lands from the resort village designation, which will limit future growth potential in Minett.
  • Extending water quality protections to Bruce Lake
  • Limiting building height to 16m AND requiring buildings to remain below the natural treeline
  • Limiting building height in the waterfront setback area to 2 storeys
  • Capping maximum equivalent unit size to 850 sq ft in ALL of Minett
  • Requiring staff housing be located in Minett
  • Requiring the major landowners to pay for municipal water and wastewater services
  • Several other small wording changes and clarifying language that make a meaningful difference

At the request of Paula Bustard, representative of major Minett property owner Mitch Goldhar, Council removed the requirement to enhance public access to the resort. Enhancing public access, including along the shoreline, is now “encouraged”. Council did not approve additional requests by Ms Bustard for increased development flexibility.

As a reminder, Council previously approved limiting development in Minett to 1700 units with a unit size limit of 850 sq ft, down from approx 4000 units of unlimited size. That has not changed. This limit, combined with the changes above, are a huge win for our community!

Thank you for helping us make this happen and for supporting us through this long review process. We are most grateful to those who volunteered their time and effort to prepare written comments and attend the many meetings that led up to this policy. We could not have accomplished what we have in Minett without your support.

Our experience with Minett has shown, once again, that there is strength in numbers and that collective voices can have real impact. A community that comes together and participates – writes letters, fills in surveys, calls Councillors, votes in elections – has a stronger voice.

We’d also like to thank Council for listening to our community and thank Mr. Goldhar for purchasing the property and for his willingness to work with the community to create something special in Minett.

What’s next?

  1. The Minett Official Plan Amendment will be debated by District Council early in 2022, where they will look at issues of concern to the District, such as water and wastewater services, the impact on Peninsula Road and the bridge at Port Sandfield, as well as the financial impact of the development on District taxpayers.
  2. It will then go back to Township Council to consider the District’s comments and to consider any final changes.
  3. Once the OPA is passed, Council will need to amend the Zoning By-Law that implements the Official Plan Amendment. Mr. Goldhar will be required to submit a Master Development Plan which will determine the phasing of development, the design, building location, building heights in different parts of the resort village, access and transportation, required environmental safeguards, tree removal and vegetation requirements, and other considerations. This is where the rubber hits the road, as the devil is in the details.

We will stay closely involved and advocate for minimal impact development in Minett, and for a design and feel that is in keeping with Muskoka.