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.


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… 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).

Thanks to the record numbers of people who voted to protect the future of Muskoka, the candidates who support sustainable development now form a majority on four of Muskoka’s municipal councils.

Now we have momentum!

With this tremendous show of support for the stated Core Values, we are optimistic Councils will put our fragile environment first. We hope that means stopping the unsustainable development that is being planned by developers across Muskoka. Our collective voices have made a difference – and by staying involved, we can continue to use our voices to protect the Muskoka we all love, for generations to come!

For more information, look through our news feed or Waves.



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.

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. 

Leonard Lake

There is an application six waterfront lots on the North Shore (through severance) where one lot currently exists, and exempt property owners from a by-law prohibiting lot creation. The application also demands an Official Plan Amendment prior to lot creation because Leonard Lake is defined as an "over-threshold waterbody" according to the District of Muskoka Lake System Health Program.

Hearings are scheduled for September 12th and September 14th. Participation by Leonard Lake Stakeholders through letters of opposition to TML (sent prior to September 6th), and where possible attendance at the hearings, would demonstrate both a common voice saying "no" to new lot creation on a lake that is already deemed "over-threshold" and "at capacity", and a clear commitment to the long term health of our lake.


For more information, contact  or visit

New rules for lakes in Muskoka? Recreational carrying capacity makes waves

Politicians, lake association members and advocates seem eager to debate a policy that has the potential to limit waterfront development based on lake surface area Read Alison Brownlee's full article at

Holiday Wishes

The Friends of Muskoka Board thanks you for your tremendous support this year, and wishes you and your families the very best for the Holiday Season and the New Year!

Press Coverage of LPAT

Agatha Farmer covers the November LPAT in Muskoka Region: Battle between commercial vs. residential land use continues in Muskoka "The LPAT hearing is extremely important as commercial properties are attempting to rebuild their properties selling residential usage at...

Mayoral and District Chair Inaugural Speeches

During the past month, the newly elected District Chair and Mayors of our 6 towns/townships presented their inauguration speeches, which you can find at the links below. We are encouraged to see a common theme in these speeches of protecting our watershed and...


Overwhelming Support for Muskoka’s Future!! Thanks to all the people who voted to protect the future of Muskoka, the candidates who are aligned with the core values of Friends of Muskoka and the MLA now form a majority on four of Muskoka’s...

Vote NOW to Save Muskoka – and share the badge!

Voting in Muskoka has started today! You can vote online or by telephone between now and 8pm October 22nd. Just follow the instructions on the Voting Information Letter you should have received in the mail. If you have not received this voting letter, please call your...

MLA Friends of Muskoka respond to MRA “Stance on Candidate Endorsement”

The MRA published several criticisms of the MLA/Friends involvement in the Muskoka Municipal Election 2018. This joint letter from FOM and the MLA responds to these concerns and reminds the MRA of the important role that many lake and community associations play in...

Keep Sounding the Alarm for Muskoka! (drone footage of August Boat Rally in Rosseau)

Despite starting the day with heavy rains and high winds, Friends of Muskoka got in their boats and in some cases travelled great distances to demonstrate against waterfront residential subdivisions in Muskoka. Just prior to the planned 2PM start time, the rain...

Globe and Mail Coverage of SOUND THE ALARM Boat Rally in Minett

The Globe and Mail's Fred Lum covered the Sound the Alarm event in Muskoka. This has never been a local / NIMBY issue - unsustainable developments such as those proposed by developers in Muskoka affect all Canadians so it is only fitting that this issue is now getting...

Video of “Behind the Scenes” and on the Water at SOUND THE ALARM.

  Friend of Muskoka Karen Lang put together this great video showing some of the fun we had at the Minett boat rally this past weekend. I am still so...

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 100-plus waterfront commercial properties to be redeveloped into high-density residential subdivisions – 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 as it will be much more lucrative for a developer to fully build out and sell homes on these properties than it will be to run a resort.

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

The Muskoka Lakes Association Board and Friends of Muskoka are unanimously opposed to the District’s proposals, and have mounted a strong and collaborative opposition effort. Several other cottage associations are working with us. 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.

Friends of Muskoka have been working tirelessly over the past year to educate politicians and planners as to what is actually happening and we have effectively paused activity at 5 resorts, including the entire Resort Village of Minett. Developers could be permitted to build up to 3600 residences just in Minett, more than all the cottages on Lake Rosseau and Lake Joseph COMBINED, and that could create a community larger than Bracebridge. Other developments already underway include: Legacy Cottages on Lake Rosseau where the developer has clear cut to build 43 cottages on 470’ of shoreline; Villas of Muskoka on Lake Muskoka where 23 units have been built along 800’ of shoreline; Touchstone Resort on Lake Muskoka that has applied to build an additional 100 residential condominium units; and JW Marriott (Red Leaves) on Lake Rosseau that has applied to build an additional 42 residences along the shoreline. With over 100 commercially zoned properties in the District, (including resorts, camps and marinas), there is huge risk of over-loading the lakes from the stand point of safety, our continued enjoyment, and water quality.

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:



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.