The Township of Muskoka Lakes has approved its official plan which David Pink, Director of Development Services and Environmental Sustainability, says will help shape council’s decisions.
“It sets the framework for growth in the community and development,” he explains. “It really determines how we want to see land use and the character of our areas and how we’ll protect the environment.”
While the plan was approved by township council, Pink says that because Muskoka Lakes is a lower-tier municipality, the plan is now in the hands of the District of Muskoka. “We’re hopeful they will review it in the near future and be in a position to approve it,” he goes on to say. Considering how large the document is, Pink isn’t sure of an exact timeline for when that will happen.
“We’re a pretty busy municipality,” Pink says. “A lot of growth for a year-round population of our size and the official plan is a very important document to ensure that growth is done responsibly, sustainably, protects the environment, and maintains the character of our lakes, rivers, towns, and communities.”
Pink explains there hasn’t been an update to the official plan in about a decade. “A lot of the typical development standards that a lot of our developers or property owners are accustomed to aren’t changed significantly,” he says.
One notable change is to the creation of new properties. “What we’ve been experiencing over the last 5, 10, 15 years is a lot of community opposition to new lot creation on our lakes,” Pink says. “There’s a sense that a number of lakes are just almost, perhaps not so much at environmental capacity or water quality threshold, but more of a social capacity has been reached.”
He explains they have included a “recreational caring capacity” calculation within the plan. Pink explains it’s based on the size of the lake and the number of properties around it. “If the lake exceeds a certain threshold, then new lot creation may no longer be permitted,” he continues.
“There’s a sense that on a lot of our lakes that it’s just simply too busy,” Pink says, adding they want to “maintain the character” of the area.