Gravenhurst Council Highlights - May 14, 2024

Request for temporary opening of road allowance

Daniel Readman made a deputation to council.

Readman is president and co-owner of Rumball and Associates in Gravenhurst.

He asked council for the road allowance to be opened off the end of Picard Lane. This would be to access the company’s shop.

He said nearby Xavier Road, another point of access, is new and they don’t wish their trucks to damage it – hence the request to use Picard Lane.

He said the access would be temporary – they are looking for a suitable location to move the business.

Council thanked Readman for the presentation.

Later in the meeting, council passed a resolution directing staff to research the request and report to council.

Watch the presentation.

Tall Pines wants permission for staff to camp at Gull Lake Rotary Park

Kevin Goodman of the Tall Pines Music and Arts Festival made a deputation to council.

This year’s festival is July 19 and 20 at Gull Lake Rotary Park.

Goodman asked the town to allow festival staff to camp overnight in the park, an activity the town currently prohibits through a bylaw.

He said camping would reduce costs for the festival, which has yet to turn a profit.

Council thanked Goodman for the presentation and later passed a resolution directing staff to review the request and report to council on June 18.

Watch the presentation.

Wharf business would like use of Cockburn Square during regular business hours this summer

Heather Fraser, manager of Muskoka Shipyards, appeared before council.

Speaking on behalf of wharf business owners, she spoke to council about the Bay and Beyond infrastructure project.

She said business owners understand the need for the project but noted it will affect their busy season this summer.

Specifically, she said they are concerned about construction detours and construction related delays and what this will mean to people trying to access wharf businesses.

She also said the business owners are asking council to waive fees for the use of Cockburn Square at the wharf and assistance in streamlining the application process to use the square.

In particular, they would like to use the square during regular business hours. They would like to run activities that encourage people to visit the waterfront.

Mayor Lorenz thanked Fraser for the presentation.

Staff noted a ‘We Dig Gravenhurst’ campaign is in the works to support businesses affected by the Bay and Beyond project.

This includes week and weekend events at the wharf.

There is also ‘We Dig Gravenhurst’ messaging to encourage patronage of wharf businesses.

Staff will bring a report to the June council meeting to provide a more fulsome overview of the ‘We Dig Gravenhurst’ campaign.

Mayor Lorenz noted that Fraser’s Cockburn Square request will be considered as part of the report to council in June.

Watch the presentation.

Financial reports show town in good shape

Council received three financial reports for information.

Each report highlights the town’s healthy financial position and strong financial stewardship.

Watch the related discussion about the 2023 Annual Reserve and Reserve Funds Report.

Speaking about the 2023 Annual Reserve and Reserve Funds Report, Director of Financial Services Ross Jeffery noted that at the end of 2024 the town’s external debt balance will be down to $6.2 million – the lowest it has been in 25 years.

“So, I think that’s something to make note of,” he said.

Council later passed a bylaw for the establishment and maintenance of reserves and reserve funds.

Review the bylaw.

New road name proposed

Council received for information a report about renaming a privately maintained road.

Road 3700 provides access to six waterfront properties on the northern shore of Lake Muskoka.

The town received a letter from one of the area residents requesting the renaming of Road 3700.

The proposed new name is Snug Bay Trail PVT – the ‘PVT’ noting the road is privately maintained.

Jennifer Kyle, infrastructure clerk, said in her report that the proposed name poses no conflict with any existing road names in Gravenhurst or elsewhere in Muskoka.

Staff recommend the name change subject to a two-week public consultation period.

Council directed staff to place a public notice about the proposed name change on the town website, in order to gather feedback, and report back to council for further direction after the public consultation period has ended.

Read the related report.

District staff present council with watershed management update

Glenn Cunnington, manager of watershed programs for the District of Muskoka, made a presentation to council.

His presentation focused on integrated watershed management (IWM).

IWM involves managing human activities and natural resources in an area defined by watershed boundaries.

Following Cunnington’s presentation, district staffer Rebecca Willison presented information on the district’s water quality monitoring program.

Watch the presentations.

Council retains Strategy Corp to conduct municipal service delivery and organizational review

Council authorized staff to hire Strategy Corp to conduct a municipal service delivery and organizational review for the town.

The firm was selected following a request for proposals process, as per the town’s purchasing policy.

Strategy Corp will conduct the work at a cost of $77,504.

In a related report, CAO Scott Lucas said the intent of the review is “to provide recommendations to guide the organizational resourcing to best serve the community, with a strong outlook into the future.”

Lucas added: “This is particularly important given the growth the community has been experiencing, and projects to experience in the coming years. With council having recently approved a new strategic plan amongst other plans/strategies, this exercise also entails ensuring the organization is designed to accomplish council’s stated vision and goals in a fiscally prudent manner.”

Review the related report.

Watch the related discussion.

Realtors can now assist with municipal property disposal

Council approved retaining vendors of record to assist with the disposition of municipal real estate as required.

The vendors were identified through a request for proposals process.

Council also approved amending a related bylaw to allow the use of real estate service providers for the disposition of municipal property.

Read the related staff report.

Watch the discussion.

Council approves hybrid meeting policy

Following a robust discussion, council approved a hybrid council meeting policy.

The intent of the policy is to identify when and how council members may participate in meetings remotely.

Review the policy – see Schedule B.

Watch the related discussion.

Council OKs municipal Bay and Beyond funding

Council approved the town’s financial contribution towards the Bay and Beyond infrastructure project.

Council approved $1.2-million for the project, including a $250,000 contingency for the cost of replacing and rehabilitating town assets.

The money will come from the town’s Community Reinvestment and Reserve Fund and the Development Charges Reserve Fund.

Bay and Beyond is a partnership project involving the town and District of Muskoka.

The project involves new underground pipes, roadway improvements, enhancing pedestrian safety and creating more opportunities for active transportation.

The project involves a nearly two-kilometre stretch from Steamship Bay Road to Gull Lake Rotary Park.

Read the related staff report.

Watch the discussion.

Learn more about Bay and Beyond.

New parking lot will serve trail users

Council authorized staff to enter the town into an agreement with the District of Muskoka that will allow Gravenhurst to maintain and operate a 10-space gravel parking lot at 1990 Housey’s Rapids Road.

The district is in the planning stages of a proposed new waste transfer station at 1990 Housey’s Rapid Road and given the proximity to the Cooper’s Falls trail network, staff believe the new parking lot will be the ideal spot for trail users to leave their vehicles before accessing the trailhead.

The agreement with the district is for a 25-year term.

Read the related staff report.

Watch the discussion.

Learn more about Cooper’s Falls Trail.

Councillor Robinson provides Good Roads update

Councillor Michelle Robinson attended the recent Ontario Good Roads Association conference in Toronto.

Robinson provided council with an overview of the annual event.

Watch the discussion.

Learn more about the Ontario Good Roads Association.

Councillor Cairns provides update on OSUM conference

Councillor Sandy Cairns attended the recent Ontario Small Urban Municipalities (OSUM) conference in Orillia.

Cairns shared a synopsis of the conference with council members.

Watch the discussion.

Learn more about OSUM.

Housing task force update

Councillor Christina Hunter shared an update on the Muskoka Housing Task Force.

Hunter and Melissa Halford, director of development services, sit as Gravenhurst’s representatives on the task force.

The task force is comprised of community members, municipal councillors, and staff from the district and Muskoka’s area municipalities.

Watch the update.

Learn more about the task force.

Monthly mayoral update

Mayor Heidi Lorenz provided her monthly update to the community.

She also shared information about the Good Roads conference, in particular a growing desire by some municipalities to have Uber provide transportation services in smaller communities.

She also reminded people to follow safe burning practices.

The mayor also invited people to join her at the Mayor’s Tea on June 5. It’s at the Gravenhurst Opera House, starting at 1 p.m. She noted the Senior of the Year Award will be presented at the gathering.

She also noted the Gutsy Walk is on June 2 at Gull Lake Rotary Park. The event is a fundraiser for the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 9:30 a.m.

Watch the update.

Council Highlights

Council Highlights is prepared as an overview of the council meeting. For the official record, please refer to the agenda and minutes on the town website at www.gravenhurst.ca.

Watch the meeting: