Gravenhurst Council Highlights - Sept. 19, 2023

TimberBeast Productions presentation

Autumn Smith of TimberBeast Productions made a presentation to council.

Smith is TimberBeast’s artistic director and executive director.

She provided council with an overview of the organization – a local theatre company dedicated to voicing the Muskoka narrative.

Smith also shared details about the company’s new season, noting they will produce four works over the course of the year, using various venues in town. 

Mayor Heidi Lorenz thanked Smith for an informative presentation and commended her for contributions to the community.

Watch the presentation.

Learn more about TimberBeast

Ramp presentation

Barb Bridgeman of Residents Against Muskoka Poverty (RAMP) also made a presentation to council.

RAMP is a volunteer group with a mission to reduce poverty in Muskoka.

The organization asked for the town’s support as an “honourary champion” of its work and asked to display the town’s logo on its website.

They also asked that if the town knows of programs that assist people out of poverty that the town share this information with RAMP.

Watch the presentation.

Learn more about RAMP.

Music on the Barge presentation

Local resident Grant Tingey made a presentation to council, asking that the town consider moving Music on the Barge from Sunday nights to Saturday nights.

The outdoor summer concert series takes place each year at Gull Lake Rotary Park.

Tingey said the change in days would allow more weekenders and tourists to attend.

He said that on Sunday nights many cottagers and tourists are on their way home and miss out on the concerts.

A change in days would also help the local economy, he said, as more people would be in town for the concert, in turn spending time and money in local businesses before and after each performance.

Mayor Lorenz thanked Tingey for the presentation and said the town will take his suggestions into consideration.

Watch the presentation.

Learn more about Music on the Barge.

Muskoka Watershed Council says integrated watershed plan needed, makes funding request

Pete LeMoine of the Muskoka Watershed Council made a presentation, covering a variety of topics, including a request for funding for the organization.

He said that on Monday, Sept. 18 the council released its latest report card on the watershed.

Review the report card.

LeMoine said the report card notes the challenges facing the watershed.

He also talked about the need for integrated watershed management in Muskoka. This would involve all the municipalities in the district working together to reverse negative watershed trends.

According to the watershed council, “integrated watershed management incorporates and balances three components of a community: economic viability, environmental resilience, and societal needs.”

LeMoine said they’d like members of town council and staff to work with the watershed council.

He said they would like the town to be part of the team that puts together an integrated watershed management plan for the area.

As well, LeMoine said they’d like town council and staff to participate in an education day about what integrated watershed management means. He said the day will happen in February 2024 with more details to come.

The watershed council also asked for funding, specifically $15,000 in 2024. LeMoine asked that town council consider the request as part of 2024 budget deliberations.

He said the watershed council, until now a strictly volunteer body, would use the funding to continue its work by hiring staff to assist with policy creation, public education, and communications initiatives. 

Mayor Lorenz thanked LeMoine for the presentation and noted the request for funding could be considered during budget talks.   

Watch the presentation to learn more.

Emergency Management Program Update

Council received for information the Emergency Management Program Update.

The purpose of the report is to provide a summary of the Emergency Management Program Activities for the year.

Watch the related discussion.

Read the report to learn more.

Council awards winter maintenance contract

Council members awarded a winter maintenance rental contract to A&G The Road Cleaners.

The value of the contract is $187,600, excluding HST.

The company will provide two tandem-axle plows to assist with winter maintenance of District of Muskoka roads in Gravenhurst.

The town received two bids for the contract with the lowest coming from A&G.

The contract will allow the town’s winter maintenance fleet to focus primarily on local roads.

The District of Muskoka provides budget money for the contract.

Watch the related discussion.

Read the staff report to learn more.

New user fees and service charges approved for 2024

Council members approved new user fees and service charges for next year.

The approval comes after a presentation on the fees at the August committee of the whole meeting, followed by related public consultation.

“As stated in the report presented in August, the changes to the user fees and service charges [will] generate approximately $50,000 in additional net operating revenue in 2024 that would then not otherwise be allocated to the general tax base,” deputy treasurer Rob Rosilius said.

Watch the related presentation.

Read the related staff report to learn more.

Review the new fees.

Greenhouse gas and climate change report received for information, related contract awarded

Council received for information a report on the Muskoka Joint Area Municipal Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Climate Change Mitigation Plan.

They also awarded the contract for the creation of the plan to Tatham Engineering at a cost of $153,915, excluding HST, subject to approval from each participating lower-tier municipality.

Council also approved using the Infrastructure Reserve to fund the town’s portion of the project, which amounts to $25,652.50, plus HST.

“The purpose [of the report] is to provide…an update on climate change-related actions that are currently underway and to advise of a joint project that is currently underway with the other area municipalities in Muskoka,” director of development services Melissa Halford said.

She further added that: “This project will result in each [area municipality] having a corporate [greenhouse gas inventory] as well as a customized mitigation plan based on comparable parameters to the other [area municipalities], ensuring that we are all addressing the matter in a consistent manner.”

Watch the related discussion.

Read the staff report.

Council waives facility fees for YWCA convention

Council agreed to waive rental fees at the Centennial Centre when YWCA Muskoka uses the site in June 2024 for the YWCA Canada annual membership meeting.

YWCA Muskoka, during a presentation to council in August, requested that fees be waived for the facility.

Council agreed to waive $2,478.09 in fees for use of the Terry Fox auditorium, a meeting room, and kitchen.

Watch the related discussion.

Council requests district place speed sign on Doe Lake Road

Council passed a resolution asking the District of Muskoka to consider placing an electronic speed sign on Doe Lake Road.

Council would like to see the sign placed eastbound on Doe Lake Road before the ‘V’ approaching Housey’s Rapids Road.

The request for the sign is in response to local concerns about speeding.

Speed signs use technology to measure how fast an approaching vehicle is going. The information is then flashed onto the sign for the approaching driver to see, often serving as a reminder to slow down.

Watch the related discussion.

Mayor’s update

Mayor Heidi Lorenz shared her monthly update.

The mayor noted she had a productive time at the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in London, Ont. in late August.

Learn more about the conference.

Mayor Lorenz also touched on the recent news that Metroland Media is seeking bankruptcy protection.

The company announced the move on Sept. 15 and said it is also ceasing publication of all its weekly newspapers, including the Gravenhurst Banner.

The company will continue to run its online news sites.

Also, Metroland said it is laying off more than 600 employees.

The mayor extended best wishes to people who have lost jobs.

She noted the news also impacts the Town of Gravenhurst, which historically has used the Banner newspaper to advertise municipal notices.

Mayor Lorenz said the town is investigating what its options are for getting out information now that the Banner is no longer publishing.

Lastly, the mayor also encouraged people to attend local charitable events as much as possible. She said going to events is a great way to support organizations in the community.

Watch the mayor’s 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: