Carling boathouse ban brings opposition
CARLING TWP. - New boathouses may soon be against the law in Carling Township.
An amendment to the official plan was brought forward at Monday’s council meeting that prohibit the construction of any new boathouses or boatports in the Township of Carling. The planned amendment generated significant controversy as a variety of community members came out to speak against the matter.
Those in opposition argued the amendment goes overboard with regulations in a community they believe is already overregulated.
Ron Bowman, a property owner in Carling Township and a contractor by trade, argued to council that the amendment opposes property owner rights and is an example of over-regulation.
“Local people in this area rely on the construction industry more than anything to make a living, and we’ve been regulated so much in the last 10 to 15 years,” said Bowman. “It just seems like every time you turn around there’s something else coming in. They’re cutting down the size you can build and the height and shape and how many lights you have on. They want to regulate everything, and I’m fed up with it. That’s how we all make a living.”
Bowman sees the planned prohibition as part of a trend towards regulation throughout society. He believes the current process in place at the municipality already has significant restrictions on development.
At present, prior to a boathouse being constructed, a resident can be required to receive proper zoning, a permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources or receive consent from neighbours.
Aside from all that, Bowman argues that boathouses can be a positive addition to a waterfront.
“I think boathouses look nice. I like boathouse, and I don’t think they ruin the landscape,” said Bowman. “If boathouses are done tastefully there’s nothing wrong with them.”
According to Gord Harrison, mayor of Carling Township, discussions of what to do about boathouse regulation have been ongoing for sometime now. He said the proposed amendment is part of a philosophy of shoreline preservation.
“The planning regime that has developed over probably the last 15 years has been one of preservation of the shoreline. We’re encouraging sort of a reduction of the built form along the shoreline with as much of the building mass moving back or away from being directly on the shoreline,” said Harrison. “The idea is that when you’re out enjoying the Georgian Bay what you get a sense of is being dominated by nature rather than nature being dominated by buildings.”
He said that many in council don’t believe the current official plan reflects what they would like to see in regards to boathouses.
Also speaking in opposition to the proposed amendment was resident Danny Strelec. He has been engaged in a dispute with the township since last summer when they enforced a ban on renting out waterfront properties following a complaint from a neighbour.
“The township is creating bylaws that are restricting property owners’ rights,” said Strelec. “Whether it be we can’t rent the house out, and now we can’t build any more boathouses. When you start looking at the rules and regulations and the cans and can’ts and the dos and the don’ts in the new bylaws that came into effect in 2011, there are all kinds of examples where they restricted your rights as a property owner.”
Strelec had prepared a speech but was cut short roughly 10 minutes into his presentation.
“I was discriminated against. He took away my freedom of speech. He didn’t allow me to continue. He claimed I had gone beyond the allowable 10 minutes when in fact there were four other people who spoke who also went beyond the 10 minutes and nothing was said to them,” Strelec said.
Within the full version of his presentation, Strelec accuses the town’s Chief Administrative Officer of wasting taxpayer money and aggressively targeting property owners. He also planned to talk about his ongoing interactions with township personnel in relation to the dispute over renting out his waterfront property.
Harrison said that he and his council insist on providing everybody who wishes to speak an open opportunity to do so but that he has to stop speakers if they are moving beyond the issue at hand.
“We generally have a policy of around 10 minutes per presentation simply because the meeting becomes far too long, and after 10 minutes most points are made. But I had to stop certain people because they were moving past the issue that was on the table which was the matter with the boathouses,” said Harrison. “They were speaking to matters relating to staff, and I was uncomfortable because they were directed to staff and staff do not have the opportunity to defend themselves at these meetings.”
The amendment has been deferred and will likely appear before council again in March.