Friends of Muskoka are a group of dedicated volunteers working to protect and to preserve the natural environment and unique character of Muskoka by promoting responsible use and development of its land and lakes.


Friends of Muskoka is a not-for-profit Canadian corporation. For more information, click here.




Legacy Cottages

At the old Lakeside Lodge property on 470 ft of Lake Rosseau, the Rosseau Group plan to build 43 cottages. See a video of their progress taken November 2017 here.

Villas of Muskoka

The Villas property is zoned “waterfront resort-commercial”, which means the units are required to be available to the travelling public and cannot be used as a residential or cottage property by the owners of the units. The Villas want to allow owners of these commercially zoned properties to be able to use them as their own personal residences or cottages.

If the Villas were allowed, this is a massive de facto increase in the number of cottages on the Muskoka Lakes without the residential restrictions, such as 200’ of frontage per cottage, to protect the lakes. If allowed at the Villas, the precedent will allow housing projects at any of the 100 ‘resort commercial’ properties around the Muskoka Lakes.

Touchstone / Mist

Property is zoned and building permits issued as resort commercial. Now built, developers have applied to change to condominium / residential which if allowed translates to massive increase in cottage density without normal residential restrictions. Currently appealed to the OMB.

Marriott Red Leaves

The Marriott Red Leaves has applied to build 40 more cottages in this little bay on Lake Rosseau in Minett, Muskoka. The Marriott is zoned resort commercial, but they are hoping to sell these properties as residential units. There's a rush to get this done now before the public catches on and before the District and Muskoka Official Plans formally put an end to this unsustainable and unlawful development in Muskoka.

Clevelands House / Minett Village

The Village of Minett initially plans on building 1400 new units, but that number could be as high as 3300!

This little bay on Lake Rosseau is turning out to be one of the major battlegrounds to Save Muskoka. Lakeside Lodge (Legacy Cottages), Clevelands House (Minett Village) and Marriott Red Leaves are planning to build thousands of residential properties on land zoned resort commercial.

Arundle Lodge

Walker’s Point just sold to developer.

Gull Lake Residential

30 new residential units on the lake proposed.


40 new residential units just North of Windermere

Little Long Lake

The potential to double number of cottages due to applied change in zoning. 

Main activities of Friends of Muskoka

Our petition to protect the lakes from overdevelopment has now reached over 25,000 signatures! Sign here.
We continue to advocate for what is best for Muskoka at 5 developments: Villas of Muskoka, Touchstone/MIST, Legacy Resorts, Marriott Hotel, and Resort Village of Minett.

– Villas and Touchstone/MIST: The developer appealed the District’s conditions in its condominium application to the OMB, and the hearing was scheduled to proceed on April 23 and 24. Friends of Muskoka applied for party status, and we and our lawyer and planner prepared for the OMB hearing; however, it was postponed at the last minute when the Board member hearing the matter became unavailable for the first day. On the second day, our lawyer participated in a pre-hearing conference with lawyers from the developers, the District and Township of Muskoka Lakes. The OMB hearing has been rescheduled for early November 7 to 9…..so another lost season for the developers of these two properties. There was discussion of mediation in the next few months.

– Legacy: At the end of February, the developer at Legacy Cottages applied for a work permit to build 8 new docks and a large boathouse with 3 additional slips, in addition to the existing docks, which would provide docking space for 50 boats – clearly intended to allow each of Legacy’s units to dock a boat. We have challenged this application at the federal Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and await their decision. At this point all other construction on the site has stopped, which we suspect is the result of our actions and wanting to hear the outcome of OMB hearing in November, which will also affect them.

– Marriott: Through our lawyer , we objected to the application by the Marriott Red Leaves to build 40 more cottages on their property, some of them only 10 feet from the shoreline. At the Township of Muskoka Lakes ‘Committee of the Whole’ hearing on February 15th, 3 representatives of Friends of Muskoka spoke in opposition, and won a unanimous deferral until the developer is able to address concerns about the septic system, (undersized and not on their property, which Council was unaware of) and the fire department access.

We have circulated four editions of our WAVES newsletter to our email list to give them timely updates on our progress and keep them engaged. Archive available here.
We have had important and constructive meetings to discuss our input on the District Official Plan (“DOP”) with planners from the District and their planning consultant; some of these meetings have also been attended by planners from the 3 towns (Bracebridge, Gravenhurst and Huntsville) and 3 townships (Muskoka, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay). These meetings related to a. the resorts clauses in the DOP, including the destructive clause that would allow 50% of the units on resort properties to be residential and b. the policies that will preserve our watershed, lake health and environment.

Our efforts to influence OP policies have resulted in District staff taking the position that more studies are likely necessary before the current draft is revised. On May 24, they will present options for the scope, timeline and budget of the OP review process to District Planning and Economic Development Committee (PEDC).

We are collaborating with the MLA to ensure a favourable outcome in the crucial October 2018 municipal elections. This is the first election with online voting, and we have already communicated with our respective members to explain its importance and the key issues. We will explain how to register to vote, and will continue to provide reminders and instructions as voting day approaches. We are actively looking for candidates whose views about development in Muskoka align with ours, and will support their campaigns.
Special Election 2018 section here.
For more information, look through our news feed or Waves.

Press Coverage of Township of Muskoka Lakes June 15, 2018 Vote to Keep Minett ICBL

After the May 18th meeting where councillors voted 8-2 in favour of pausing development applications in the Village of Minett, Councillor Jean-Ann Baranik moved to reconsider the bylaw. Fortunately for Minett and Muskoka, Council voted 7 -3 in favour of keeping the...

Resolution to repeal the ICBL was defeated by a vote of 7-3!

The Township of Muskoka Lakes Council voted this morning to uphold their May 18th decision to ‘pause’ development in Minett through an interim control by-law while studies are done to determine what development is appropriate in this small bay. The meeting was moved...

The Friends in Dockside

Friends of Muskoka are continuing to raise awareness of the issues facing Muskoka. Read the whole article here.  

Township and District freeze development in Minett

Agatha Farmer / Bracebridge Examiner coverage of the historic May 18, 2018 Township of Muskoka 8 - 2 vote to implement an interim control bylaw to freeze development in Minett until proper impact studies have been completed. Read the full article here....

OPP reports eight-year high in boating fatalities in 2017

MuskokaRegion.com reports on major increase in boat related fatalities in the past several years. More evidence why Muskoka must move cautiously when considering major residential expansion on already crowded lakes....

Real Progress

Incredibly good news from Friday's (05/18/18) Township of Muskoka Lakes council meeting. The Township of Muskoka Lakes voted 8-2 to pass resolutions to require additional studies of the Resort Village of Minett and to institute an interim control by-law (ICBL) which...

Staff Trailers Pop-up in Bala

Housing trailers have been dropped off at the Bala Bay Inn to be used as accommodation for 80 - 100 staff of the JW Marriott hotel. See Muskoka411 news story here. Not only were Bala residents kept in the dark on this plan, but even the Ward A councillors were unaware...

Art is Muskoka

Paul Richards at District PEDC Meeting on March 22, 2018

Paul explains the "switcheroo" to the District PEDC: "Let’s look at the switcheroo. Legacy applied for a site plan approval. It was applied for in September 2017 and granted. Let me read you one of the clauses that they agreed to in writing and signed. 'The owner...

A mess in Muskoka!

We reported in Waves III that Friends of Muskoka and other concerned residents were successful at convincing the Township of Muskoka Lakes (TMO) Committee of the Whole to ask District to include the Resort Village of Minett in their comprehensive Official Plan (OP)...

the problem in muskoka

We are asking for your help today to fend off a drastic threat to the scenic waterfront communities of Muskoka.

A new District Official Plan will, if enacted, generate high-density redevelopment of resort properties throughout Muskoka.

Sign up for the Friends of Muskoka Waves newsletter for updates on the next chance for input on the new Official Plan. Official plans set the rules of land use and development for a municipality. This new plan would allow any of Muskoka’s 80-plus waterfront resorts to be redeveloped into high-density residential enclaves – thanks to a developer-friendly redefinition of what constitutes a “Resort”. The District of Muskoka’s planners, in a misguided attempt to prop up the ailing resort industry, are proposing that 50% of all new units may be sold and operated as fully residential units, without the requirement to rent. The other 50% can be sold with minimal (and unenforceable) rental obligations. It is, simply, residential densification under the guise of being a “Resort”. Ironically the real effect maybe doing away with resorts entirely.

If passed, this new District Plan will change the character of Muskoka and our beautiful shorelines forever.

The Muskoka Lakes Association Board is unanimously opposed to the District’s proposals, and has agreed to mount a strong and collaborative opposition effort. Several other cottage associations are working with us. The Board believes this is truly a defining moment for Muskoka. It could be an expensive undertaking. But if we don’t act now, in 10 years our children will ask us why we didn’t.

What can you do?

Please get involved. If you love this beautiful region, let your voice be heard. You can start by joining the thousands who’ve already signed our petition. Here’s the link: bit.ly/SaveMuskoka

You can register all of the people in your household who are entitled to vote in the crucial October 22, 2018 Muskoka elections, and vote online or in person on election day. Friends of Muskoka and the MLA have provided instructions for registering to vote here. We will send updates on the election to everyone on our email lists, so get on the list by inserting your information in the green box below.



Let’s stop the Muskoka sell-out!


We would like the Township of Muskoka Lakes and the Muskoka District Council to protect our environment by enforcing current residential setback and density restrictions for any residential construction proposed on commercial or resort designated or zoned lakefront properties.