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Council Highlights - March 21, 2023

Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Plan presentation

Council received a presentation on the draft Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Plan.

Steve Langlois of Monteith Brown Planning Consultants walked council through the draft plan.

Once approved, the plan will serve as a guide for the provision of parks and recreation-type amenities for the next decade.

In creating the draft plan, a public consultation process took place, which included a survey through Engage Gravenhurst.

The draft plan has 76 recommendations.

Residents can review the plan on the town website and Engage Gravenhurst. Comments can be e-mailed to:

A public open house is also planned.

Council will be asked to approve the plan on May 16.

Watch the presentation on the draft plan


Muskoka Conservancy presentation

Scott Young, executive director of Muskoka Conservancy, appeared before council.

He supplied an overview of the organization and fielded questions from council members.

Throughout Muskoka, the conservancy has 51 properties under its protection, including 37 nature reserves and 14 conservation easements.

The conservancy also runs a variety of programs.

Visit the conservancy website to learn more.

Watch the presentation to council.


No changes to Lot 11 use for now

Council passed a resolution suspending until 2024 the movement of vendors and event business from Parking Lot 11 at the Muskoka Wharf and directed staff to report back with parking options and recommendations on event logistic considerations.

Council directed staff to report back prior to the 2024 event planning season.

The resolution was passed after two event organizations raised concerns over their potential loss of use of Lot 11 at the Wharf.

Watch the presentations and listen to the discussion.


United Way funding request approved

Council members approved a United Way funding request for $5,000.

The money will support the United Way’s Urgent Needs Fund, which helps local families.

Suzanne Prosser, relationship manager for United Way Simcoe Muskoka, requested the funding in a March 7 letter to council.

Prosser also appeared before council at its meeting and gave a presentation on United Way and its work in the area.

She noted United Way Simcoe Muskoka launched the Urgent Needs Fund in 2019. In the past year, the fund has helped 35 people.

“Our goal is to provide emergency funds in time of need so that people and families can meet their basic needs,” Prosser said.

Learn more about United Way Simcoe Muskoka.

Watch the presentation.


Council endorses health hub proposal

Town council passed a motion endorsing a proposal to set up a community health hub in Gravenhurst.

The Cottage Country Family Health Team and the Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team are submitting a proposal to Ontario Health and the Ministry of Health.

The hub, if approved, would be at the team’s Pineridge Gate site in Gravenhurst.

See the related letter from the family health team.

Learn more about the family health team.


Statement of remuneration for council members and committee members

Council received for information the 2022 statement of remuneration for council members and people serving on boards and committees.

“The purpose…is to provide a…statement of compensation and expenses paid by the municipality to and on behalf of members of council, local boards, and committees,” deputy treasurer Theresa Trott wrote in a related staff report. 

Staff report and related statement.


Council appoints representative to district climate change task force

Karen Moyer will serve as the town’s representative on the District of Muskoka Climate Change Mitigation Task Force.

Council passed a resolution making the appointment official.

Moyer also sits on the town’s Sustainability Advisory Committee.

As well, council appointed Brad Pettersone as the town’s alternate member on the district task force. Pettersone also sits on the town’s Sustainability Advisory Committee.

The appointments to the district task force are for 2023.


Staff researching ‘No Mow May’ options

Council passed a motion directing staff to prepare a report outlining options for a ‘No Mow May’ program in Gravenhurst.

The report and recommendations are to be presented at the March 28 Planning Council meeting for consideration.

‘No Mow May’ is an optional initiative whereby residents are asked to hold off mowing lawns during the month.

The intent is to support pollinators during the spring as they seek their first food sources of the season.

The ‘No Mow May’ concept originated in the United Kingdom and in recent years has grown in popularity in parts of North America.


Verbal update from CAO

Scott Lucas, chief administrative officer for the Town of Gravenhurst, provided council with a verbal update on various town matters.

Watch the update.


Accessibility Advisory Committee work plan for 2023

Ralph Culham, Chair of the Accessibility Advisory Committee, presented to council the committee’s goals and objectives for the year.

They include the following:

  • Review of accessibility of the Muskoka Wharf area
  • Review and report on the 2022 accessibility survey
  • Advocacy and education
  • Participation in town events
  • Ongoing review of capital project plans for public spaces.

Read the related report.

Review the work plan.

Watch the presentation.


Town advances strategic planning exercise

Gravenhurst town council is moving ahead with the creation of a new strategic plan for the municipality.

“This is an exciting opportunity,” Mayor Heidi Lorenz said. “Council looks forward to supplying input during the plan’s development. A community engagement process, plus contributions from town staff, will also play an important part in crafting the plan.” 

On Tuesday, March 21, council authorized chief administrative officer Scott Lucas to negotiate and finalize a single source contract with Strategy Corp for the creation of the new plan.

Read the related news release.


Terence Haight grants approved

Nine organizations in the community will receive Terence Haight grants.

Council approved awarding grants to the following organizations:

  • Gravenhurst Against Poverty - $5,000
  • GHS Gryphtech Robotics Club - $4,241
  • Gravenhurst Ladies Auxiliary (Legion) - $1,321
  • Gravenhurst Royal Canadian Legion - $6,500
  • Muskoka Beechgrove Public School - $2,224
  • RYDE Community Centre - $2,000
  • Safe Quiet Lakes - $700
  • Timber Beast Productions - $5,000
  • YMCA Muskoka - $3,000

Council also received for information an update on changes to the Terence Haight Financial Assistance Program Policy.

Read the staff report to learn more.


Events deemed municipally significant

Council deemed 11 events as municipally significant to the Town of Gravenhurst.

Event organizers must have the designation if they wish to serve alcohol, as per provincial regulations.

The events are as follows:

  • Tall Pines Music and Art Festival
  • Gravenhurst Triathlon
  • Gravenhurst Car Show
  • Toronto Outboard Racing Club
  • Antique and Classic Boat Show
  • Ontario Power Boat Racing Association
  • In Water Boat and Cottage Show with Ribfest
  • Northern Pass Bike Ride
  • Dockside and Muskoka Music Festival
  • Gravenhurst Curling Club Summer Bonspiel
  • Gravenhurst Winter Carnival

Read the related staff report to learn more.


Noise exemptions approved

Three community events received exemptions to the town’s noise control bylaw.

  • The Toronto Outboard Racing Club event (June 25 and 25).
  • Ontario Power Boat Racing Association event (TBD).
  • Tall Pines Music and Arts Festival (June 16 to 18).

A related staff report notes that “although the proposed events do result in significant noise in the community, they also provide exciting opportunities to promote an active lifestyle reflective of Muskoka. It also represents an opportunity to assist in the community’s continued economic and social recovery.”

Read the staff report.


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

Watch the meeting:

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