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 Legacy Docks

Here is the Legacy Cottages waterfront on Lake Rosseau as it was in the summer of 2017 (notice the water depth in the foreground). Unfortunately, you can't see the weasel running back and forth across the shore, the many families of ducks nesting in this bay, or the...

Legacy Cottages continues their assault on Lake Rosseau

Legacy Cottages has applied to build a series of docks and a boat house on their 470 feet of Lake Rosseau . If Legacy is allowed to build and use these docks as intended, everyone who cares about the water quality, the safety and the character of the Muskoka Lakes...

Another decision against residential units on commercial resorts in Muskoka

The Township of Muskoka Committee of the Whole reached a unanimous decision on Feb 15th to defer the decision on the Site Plan application for Marriott’s expansion until the issues we identified (including septic and wastewater treatment, and fire department access)...


Highlights include: Mist's request for appeal dismissal declined, District and Township have jurisdiction to enforce conformity to the official plans OMB rejects key Villas argument that rental pool conditions are beyond its jurisdiction OMB focuses on the definition...

Minett. One of the major battlegrounds to Save Muskoka

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...

Who are the 'Friends' and why do I need to Save Muskoka?

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.

Here are some of the main activities of Friends of Muskoka. For more information, look through our news feed or Waves.

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… 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.

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:

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.