ML mayor loses her cool during zoning debate
By Jennifer Bowman
November 21, 2012
MUSKOKA LAKES - Twenty-five minutes into a discussion about policy, zoning and lawyers, Muskoka Lakes council finally addressed the concern of a Port Carling property owner.
“All I wanted to do was build a boathouse,” the representative for Ferndale Fun Inc said.
But councillors seemed more focused on the complicated zoning situation of the property which hasn’t been changed to fit the official plan.
The discussion took place at a committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 14. The committee couldn’t agree on how to go forward.
Currently there are 19 zones in Muskoka Lakes. Some councillors felt the property could fit into one of them, others felt a new zone needed to be created.
Coun. Allen Edwards said the application has drawn on long enough and needs to move forward.
Coun. Phil Harding said a three-week delay while they look at the situation wasn’t going to hinder things.
“We’ve been given a gift, I believe, to discuss the zoning on the property,” Harding said.
More than 45 minutes into the debate and months after Ferndale Fun first asked for the boathouse, Mayor Alice Murphy said she felt they were pushing the process through too fast.
“We give people here a really hard time for a lot of things, and for us to just go willy-nilly into this, I find unbelievable, and to complain whether or not we’ve spent 45 minutes on this, I find disrespectful,” Murphy said.
Murphy continued to slam council saying, “I don’t think people have really read this, and really get it … Like let’s get real here, let’s actually follow proper process.”
Coun. Ruth Nishikawa, who was chairing the meeting, responded to the mayor in defence of council.
“I’m starting to feel, quite frankly, that you’re getting a little disrespectful to members around the table, and I’d like to put a stop to it as the chair of the committee at this time,” Nishikawa said.
At that point Murphy banged the gavel and announced a recess.
“I’m going to take a break, as the chair of council. So we’re going to take a break now and we’ll reconvene at 4:15.”
The lengthy application process of Muskoka Lakes council has gulped large amounts of time from many property owners over the years.
Shawn Leon arrived at the meeting for a 1:30 p.m. delegation and was still waiting for his turn to speak when the mayor announced the break at 4 p.m.
He has been working with council since May in an effort to demolish a boathouse on the Edenvale Inn property.
Other properties have also been returning to committee and council again and again.
According to the township’s procedural bylaw, members are generally not to speak for longer than five minutes to the same question or in reply.
The discussion on Gregoris’ boathouse and zoning continued for longer than an hour.
Gregoris said he’d hoped to build the boathouse over the winter so it could be opened in June. He said all he wants to do is build a boathouse, he’s not looking for anything more from the township.
He suggested moving forward with the boathouse and returning to the zoning issues at a later date.
Committee of the whole deferred the matter and will return to the issue in three weeks.
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