Just in time to meet the province’s April 19 deadline, the Town of Gravenhurst has joined a growing list of councils that are against “floating accommodations.”
The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources, and Forestry set that as the date for councils in Ontario to submit their comments on what Councillor. Heidi Lorenz called during the town’s April 12 council meeting an “emerging topic.”
“We are seeing a change on Ontario’s waterways,” a bulletin posted by the ministry on March 3 reads. “Over the years, the use of provincial waterways by watercraft has expanded to include floating accommodations, which are designed primarily to provide accommodation for longer stays, like a cottage, and not for navigation or for camping purposes.”
“This would be, in essence, putting the ministry on notice that the Town of Gravenhurst has a concern about this stuff,” Scott Lucas, the town’s Chief Administrative Official, said.
Town council was unanimous in their support during last week’s meeting to send a letter to the ministry on what they believe qualifies as a “vessel,” how long one should be permitted to camp on Crown Land, wastewater management, and lack of infrastructure, like hygiene amenities, to support the floating accommodations.
“They have no rules as far as their wastewater management goes,” Lorenz, who put the motion forward, said. “There is nothing saying these vessels cannot be afloat in the lakes on Crown Land for up to 21 days at a time, with no permit.
“This could be a disaster for the lakes,” she added.
“It’s not an affordable housing issue,” Lorenz went on to say. “I don’t believe that they are a good idea for affordable housing especially because of the wastewater. If we wreck our lakes, we have nothing here.”
Lucas explained the second part of the motion is to have staff report back to council at a later date with more details on how town council can influence the ongoing discussion. “This is the start of the conversation,” he said.
“I want to condemn these things,” Councillor Jo Morphy said. “I don’t any messaging going out that we’re looking at ways of accomodating these vessels.