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Gravenhurst Council Highlights - June 18, 2024

Request for ice time at the Graeme Murray Arena

Troy Kahler, representing the Muskoka Shield Hockey Club and Academy of Hockey, made a presentation to council.

Kahler provided an overview of their history in the community and asked that the town reinstate their ice contract at the Graeme Murray Arena.

Mayor Heidi Lorenz thanked Kahler for the presentation.

The mayor noted the town does have an ice allocation policy that is being adhered to by staff, however, she said if any member of council wishes to make changes, they can bring forward a resolution to do so at a future council meeting.

Watch the presentation.

Rainbow bridge and pet memorial in the works for Muskoka Wharf

Sharon Morton, of the Gravenhurst Lions Club, made a presentation to council.

The club would like to work with the town to establish a pet memorial bridge at the Muskoka Wharf.

She noted the club and town staff have already had initial discussions about the project as the proposal aligns with the council approved Wharf Revitalization Plan.

The project would involve the town painting the existing bridge at the wharf in rainbow colours and the club would coordinate pet memorials, which would consist of pet tags or plaques affixed to the bridge.

The rainbow colours would be symbolic of the Rainbow Bridge poem, which speaks to the loss of a beloved pet and the eventual reunion of pet and owner.

Mayor Lorenz thanked Morton for her presentation and said the proposal sounds like a wonderful idea.

Mayor Lorenz said there will be some details for the club and the town to work out.

CAO Scott Lucas noted council did not need to make any decision regarding the proposal.

He said any budgetary requirements for the project would come to council as part of the capital or operating budget in the future, if necessary.

Watch the presentation.

Learn more about the Gravenhurst Lions Club.

Ukulele group flash mobs council

It was a first for Gravenhurst town council – a flash mob during a council meeting.

Karen Ross of the Highway 11 Ukulele Players made a presentation to council.

She provided an overview of the organization and during the presentation the group’s members flash mobbed council with their rendition of the folk song Sloop John B.

The ukulele musicians meet weekly in Gravenhurst to play their instruments. Members come from along the Highway 11 corridor.

Ross noted new members are always welcome.

Learn more about the group.

Watch the presentation.

Save South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Committee presentation

The Save South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Committee made a presentation to council.

The grassroots group is a not-for-profit organization that is advocating for equitable access to acute care services across the district.

They believe the revised model for hospital redevelopment, as proposed by Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC), is inequitable and detrimental to people.

They asked that council demand accountability from MAHC.

They also asked that council call for a pause to the redevelopment process, allowing time for MAHC to get the right plan in place.

They said “getting it right” should include two equitable hospitals for north and south Muskoka, and a plan to meet the district’s future needs for alternate level of care patients.

Watch the presentation for full details.

Mayor Lorenz thanked the group for its presentation.

She said everyone is concerned about access to healthcare in Muskoka.

Mayor Lorenz said that on a number of occasions she has met with local doctors and MAHC representatives regarding redevelopment plans.

“My hope is that they are going to come together. I know there is a dialogue continuing,” she said.

The mayor said council appreciates the committee’s advocacy.

Hope Arises Project presentation

Joyce Jonathan Crone of Hope Arises Project Inc. made a presentation to council.

The Indigenous-led, Muskoka-based not-for-profit provided council with an overview of its initiatives.

Founded in 2022, Hope Arises “offers interactive and informative cultural competency training to all sectors.”

The group aims to “strengthen cultural understanding and knowledge to address cultural misconceptions and barriers.”

The group asked that the organization become a community partner with the Town of Gravenhurst.

Mayor Heidi Lorenz thanked the group for its presentation.

Watch the presentation.

Learn more about the Hope Arises Project.

Emergency Management Program Update Report

Council received the Emergency Management Program Update Report for information.

The report provides a summary of the program activities in 2023 and confirmation of annual compliance requirements.

Read the report.

Town will work with OPP to promote CAMSafe, plus offset camera costs

Insp. Wade Beebe, detachment commander for Bracebridge OPP, made a presentation to council.

Insp. Beebe provided an update on policing in the community.

Bebee said residents will see an increased police presence in the community – this includes such things as foot patrol, bike patrol, and for the first time in many years a dedicated marine patrol.

The detachment commander noted he is promoting a camera program for downtown Gravenhurst, which he believes will be helpful in terms of police investigations.

CAMSafe is a CCTV and security video registry.

Anyone who owns security cameras or CCTV systems can register with CAMSafe.

According to the CAMSafe website, “only police have access to the database of registrants. CAMSafe only requests basic contact information and camera locations.”

The program provides “a starting point for police officers to find video footage to assist an investigation.”

Beebe said the OPP would like to work with the town to promote the CAMSafe registry in the downtown area.

Additionally, Beebe asked if there is a way for the town to subsidize the cost of cameras for businesses.

As a result, council passed a resolution directing staff to develop a campaign encouraging businesses to participate in the CAMSafe program.

The resolution also directs an addition to the 2024 operating budget – up to $5,000 – to help offset camera costs for businesses. Funding will come from the Community Improvement Program Reserve Fund.

Mayor Lorenz thanked Insp. Beebe for the presentation and said she hopes businesses will consider accessing the available funding and participating in the CAMSafe registry.

Watch the presentation.

Learn more about CAMSafe.

2023 Audited Financial Statements

Council received the 2023 Audited Consolidated Financial Statements for information.

The statements show the town remains in a good financial position, director of financial services Ross Jeffery said.

Read the related staff report.

Watch the presentation.

Council approves 2024 Final Tax Levy bylaw

Council members received for information the 2024 Final Tax Levy Bylaw Report and later in the meeting passed the related bylaw.

The bylaw allows staff to prepare final tax bills for all properties.

The payment due date for taxes is Aug. 31.

Read the related staff report.

Watch the presentation.

Learn about the 2024 budget.

Council establishing Trails Committee

Council is making changes to its subcommittees.

Council agreed to replace its Sustainability Advisory Committee with a Trails Committee.

They asked that staff bring forward a terms of reference for the new committee.

They also directed staff to develop, for consideration, a plan to recruit members for the committee.

Additionally, council directed staff to complete educational initiatives noted in the 2023 Sustainability Advisory Committee Workplan, including researching and reporting on Gravenhurst becoming a Bee City.

Council’s direction is the result of recommendations from staff.

Last October, following multiple committee resignations, council put the Sustainability Advisory Committee in abeyance and directed staff to review the mandate and responsibilities of the committee as outlined in its terms of reference.

The review’s findings and recommendations were presented in a report to council on Tuesday.

Read the related report.

Watch the full discussion.

“Throughout 2023, the Sustainability Advisory Committee faced barriers in developing its annual Work Plan for a variety of reasons, including competing priorities of members, inconsistent membership and varied understanding of roles, responsibilities and authority,” staff wrote in the report to council.

Staff noted in the report that in January 2023 council approved its Climate Change Adaptation Plan.

In February 2024, council approved the town entering into an agreement with the Ontario Resource Centre for Climate Adaptation, a team of experts that will assist on delivering services and responding to climate adaptation.

The town is also working with five other area municipalities on the development of greenhouse gas emission footprint and reduction plans.

“To this effect, in administration’s opinion, the purpose for which the Sustainability Advisory Committee was established seems rather redundant,” staff said in their report.

They recommended in its place the creation of a Trails Committee, focused on maintaining and enhancing the town’s trail network.

Such a committee is a recommendation of the Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Plan.

Communities in Bloom update

Council received a report on Communities in Bloom for information.

They directed staff to maintain the town’s membership in the organization however not proceed with formal competitions.

They also directed that the town will not establish a Communities in Bloom subcommittee at this time and instead continue to support and develop the relationships with the existing horticultural society.

The report notes there are no staff resources available to participate in the program and unknown community interest.

Read the related staff report.

Watch the discussion.

Council holds off on passing Public Dock and Launch Control Bylaw

Council considered passing a Public Dock and Launch Control Bylaw but referred the matter back to staff.

Council wants staff to conduct public consultation on the proposed bylaw.

Following the consultation, staff will review the feedback and bring the proposed bylaw back to council for consideration.

Based on feedback, they could incorporate additional changes to the proposed bylaw.

The purpose of the bylaw is to regulate the use of public docks, landings, and launches and prevent the abandonment of boats and materials at docks.

Watch the related discussion.

Regional Workforce Project Update

Council received the Regional Workforce Project Update for information.

They also directed municipal staff to proceed as partners in the Muskoka Workforce Strategy Implementation Plan with financial implications included as part of the annual municipal budget.

The strategy includes background data on demographics and labour market trends, an overview of the strategy development process and summary of consultation data, and identification of strategic goals.

This comprehensive strategy includes a wide range of initiatives related to workforce attraction, retention, and development.

Read the related report.

Watch the discussion.

Cockburn Square fees waived for wharf businesses during Bay and Beyond

Council approved waiving fees for the use of Cockburn Square at Muskoka Wharf during Phase 1 and 2 of the Bay and Beyond infrastructure project.

The fee waiver is for businesses at the wharf wishing to use the square for event purposes.

“By allowing businesses at the Wharf to utilize Cockburn Square at no cost for events and functions that help maintain or encourage new foot traffic to the wharf during the Bay and Beyond project, we help reinforce…the benefits of the wharf and its businesses as a key tourism asset, while acknowledging the challenge likely to be experienced during the early phases of the [Bay and Beyond] project,” wrote Amy Taylor, manager of economic development, in a related staff report.

Read the staff report.

Watch the discussion.

Staff’s recommendation and council’s direction regarding the square stems from a request made last month.

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

Speaking on behalf of wharf businesses, she asked if council would waive fees for use of the square.

She said they wanted to run activities at the square.

Town to enter five-year agreement with golf club for use of arena

Council authorized staff to enter the town into a five-year lease agreement with Muskoka Bay Golf Club for use of the Graeme Murray Arena.

The club will have use of ice at the arena from April to June each year.

The club will be allotted 24 hours of ice per week or 96 hours of ice each month.

Additional time slots will be available for rental by user groups, organizations and the public.

The additional cost to operate the ice throughout April to June will be covered in the agreement with the permit revenue of $20,000 a month plus HST.

Read the related staff report.

Watch the discussion.

Tall Pines staffers can camp temporarily in park

Council approved temporary camping in Gull Lake Rotary Park.

The temporary camping is for Tall Pines Music and Arts Festival staff only.

Camping will be allowed July 17 to July 22.

Festival organizer Kevin Goodman asked council last month if staff camping could be allowed in the park.

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

Watch the discussion.

Read the related staff report.

Watch Mr. Goodman’s presentation at the May council meeting.

Learn about the festival.

Bus stop coming to Fire Station 2

Council directed staff to enter the town into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Corridor 11 Bus that will allow for a bus stop at Fire Station 2 in Kilworthy.

The MOU is for a five-year period.

Read the related staff report.

Watch the discussion.

The bus is a District of Muskoka service.

Learn more about the bus service.

Council approves drainage improvements for Oriole Crescent

Council received the Oriole Crescent – Major Draining Improvements Report for information.

They also approved, following completion of the related environmental assessment, realigning the existing draining channel as the preferred method of addressing ongoing nuisance flooding in the area.

Read the related staff report.

Watch the discussion.

Council approves drainage improvements for Redwing Drive

Council received the Redwing Drive – Major Drainage Improvements Report for information.

Additionally, they approved, following completion of the related environmental assessment, constructing a new storm sewer as the preferred method of addressing ongoing nuisance flooding.

Read the related staff report.

Watch the related discussion.

Council supports removal of heritage designation for Severn River Inn

Council directed staff to proceed with the required steps to remove the Severn River Inn’s official heritage designation.

The owners have requested the removal of the designation.

The Municipal Heritage Committee considered the request earlier in June and supported the owners.

The request is due to high insurance costs for heritage designated homes. The owners say the only way to bring their insurance costs down is to have the heritage designation removed.

Read the related correspondence.

Watch the related discussion.

District update from Councillor Strength

District Councillor Erin Strength provided an update on the District of Muskoka’s Community and Planning Services Committee.

Strength noted the district has kicked off its official plan review and held its first public meeting Monday.

As well, she noted the Muskoka Affordable Housing Initiatives Program (MAHIP) has provided funding for affordable housing in Huntsville and Bracebridge.

Watch the update for full details.

Mayor’s monthly update

Mayor Heidi Lorenz provided her monthly update.

She encouraged everyone to continue supporting Muskoka Wharf businesses during the Bay and Beyond infrastructure project.

Mayor Lorenz said she was delighted to present the Ontario Senior of the Year Award to Barb McCabe during the Mayor’s Annual Tea.

Peers put forward McCabe’s name for the award due to her extensive involvement with the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst and the Probus Club of Gravenhurst.

Mayor Lorenz was also happy to see local resident Judy Humphries receive an Ontario Volunteer Service Award at a ceremony in Huntsville.

Mayor Lorenz nominated Humphries for the award.

Humphries received the award in recognition of her contributions to the Gravenhurst Municipal Heritage Committee and the Gravenhurst Archives.

Mayor Lorenz also thanked everyone for their support of the Gutsy Walk, a fundraising walk for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. The walk took place at Gull Lake Rotary Park on June 2.

She also invited everyone to the town’s upcoming Canada Day celebrations at Gull Lake Rotary Park.

As well, the mayor thanked staff for all their work leading up to and during the Ontario Heritage Conference.

Watch the update for full details.

Affordable housing work begins for Revell Street land

Council directed staff to work with their counterparts at the District of Muskoka to seek funding sources for the completion of studies and initial design concepts related to the development of affordable housing on town-owned land at the end of Revell Street.

Council declared the land surplus in 2006.

Council also authorized staff to begin negotiations for the disposition of the land if that is required in order to facilitate the development of affordable housing.

Watch the related discussion.


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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