It’s not quite victory and too early to open the champagne, but it appears members of the Township of Muskoka Lakes Council have heard our voice and are having second thoughts about approving the condominium agreement for the Villas of Muskoka.

Council chose to defer a decision on the Villas until they could get further legal advice on the matter.  

This means we have time on our side, but we have to be vigilant and keep the pressure on. That is why you need to attend next week’s District Council meeting in Bracebridge on November 23 – read on.

 It’s also good news since no precedent has been set for similar agreements to take place at the other 87 resort properties across the region. Councilors are now aware that there is massive opposition to this backhanded move to rezone commercial resort properties into private condominium multi-plexes – steps from the shoreline. More importantly they now know we are not going to back down.

 We also made them aware of the fact that this decision will have implications for the entire district and we are determined to get the word out on the long-term potential damage this could do to our lakes.

 Frances Carmichael of the Quiet Waters group with over 2300 members was to speak in the afternoon and was to be speaking to our issues in complimenting their campaign for “Quiet Waters”

 We must keep up the fight. We have to get the news out to the entire district – to both seasonal and permanent residents. We need to urge our friends and neighbours to write their councilors, and sign this online petition 

 We also have to come out in force next Thursday, November 23rd to the District of Muskoka Council meeting at 9 a.m., 70 Pine St, Bracebridge, and tell the District Councilors what we think. We can’t let any opportunity go by to remind these politicians that they serve at our leisure and we do not support this proposal or any change to the official plan that would permit these types of condo agreements.

 Follow on Facebook and share the posts you read – check regularly for updates and find out what you can do to support this campaign and the lakes in your community.

 Here’s a quick snap shot of what happened today: Committee of the Whole – Council members and the Muskoka Lakes Planning Committee – met to discuss the Villas condo agreement with a view to passing it at Council.  A yesvote would set a precedent allowing high density waterfront “resorts” with very lax, unenforceable rental requirements – effectively residential condos and cottages with unsustainable commercial resort density.  

 Thirteen delegates of various groups spoke to the proposed agreement; eleven people spoke against it – one rep from MLA, one from Royal Muskoka Islander’s Association, one from Water Alliance Muskoka, and eight from Friends of Muskoka (that’s us!!) and two spoke in favour – the developer’s legal counsel and planning consultant, also hired by the developer.

 The issues that emerged include:

  •  Potential illegality of usage clause in condo agreement – MLA argues that it is unlawful for the Township to enter into a condominium agreement related to a waterfront commercial resort that permits any owner occupation of units.  This does not comply with the Township’s policies and planning regulations.  
  •  Advertising for the units misrepresents the “resort” aspect of the Villas – units are advertised as luxury cottages (with boat slip rentals and an optional rental pool) and are actually supposed to be resort rental units with occasional owner usage which is virtually impossible to determine under the agreement of purchase and sale.
  •  Usage restriction will be difficult, costly and next to impossible for the Township to enforce.
  • These units are supposed to be a “for profit” commercial entity – used as rental accommodation just as you would book a room at a resort – except how do you monitor and enforce this usage?
  •  Deleterious impact to the water quality and habit for shoreline water fowl and other wildlife.

 Ward “C” Councilor Phil Harding said it best,  “If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and talks like a duck… it is likely a duck”    — i.e. it is not a resort, it is a residential condominium complex. Period.

 Stay tuned for more updates and see you in Bracebridge next Thursday, Nov 23rd @ 9AM. 

Save Muskoka!