There was a historic decision last week at a joint District Engineering and Public Works (EPW) and Community and Planning Services (CPS) Committee meeting. District voted against a motion to approve residential use on private communal services (PCS).
This is an important decision for Muskoka since the draft District Official Plan had proposed allowing up to 50% of resort units on any commercial waterfront property to be sold and used as residential cottages. This issue is what brought Friends of Muskoka and 300 of our supporters to that historic council meeting 3 years ago and we believe preventing densely built residential development on communal services is a vital step in ensuring sustainable development in Muskoka.
The Committee discussed whether to allow residential use on PCS in Minett, something that the District has not previously allowed. If PCS were approved at the scale of the Minett developments, it would not only set a precedent in Ontario but it would also likely allow owners of every resort commercial property in Muskoka to sell half of their units as residential homes. The staff report for the meeting came out firmly against this change in policy in Minett for well documented reasons (see our joint letter with MLA).
Although we are pleased with the District’s decision to uphold their policy of not allowing residences PCS, open questions on appropriate services in Minett remain. The two alternatives are MS with residential development allowed or PCS with any residential development on individual septics. MS would allow a substantial residential component in Minett and would render Minett a growth node, making it difficult to push back on future proposals for growth (like Deerhurst or Friday Harbour). PCS would allow growth in Minett to be capped (in theory) and would prevent a residential component on the waterfront. Much more work to be done on this important issue to protect Muskoka for future generations.
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